Regarded by many as being one of the most experienced and well-travelled cameramen of the wildlife film genre, Martin Saunders has captured some of the most memorable sequences of the BBC's major natural history series, including David Attenborough's now infamous meeting with a family of mountain gorillas for Life on Earth.
An initial passion for broadcasting and camera work developed during his studies in radio engineering at Plymouth Technical College, and at 19 Martin got his first job with the BBC in the Transmitting Department. Further work for the BBC as an engineer in London and a subsequent move back to Plymouth, provided Martin with a solid grounding in most aspects of TV production and transmission.
In 1967 Martin was appointed as a trainee assistant cameraman in Cardiff, where due to the proximity to Bristol he was often asked to act as assistant cameraman for the BBC Natural History Unit. This ultimately led to Martin's appointment as assistant cameraman at the Unit in 1973, where he worked on such eminent series as The World About Us and Life on Earth.
Martin led the way in establishing one-man filming trips, after persuading Life on Earth producer, John Sparks, to allow him to independently film howler monkeys in Venezuela, instead of contracting a freelancer. This was a controversial move within the highly unionised film unit, but due to his success Martin was promoted to a fully fledged cameraman. Martin's skill and dedication as a wildlife cameraman can be seen in the likes of The Living Planet, The Trials of Life and Kingdom of the Ice Bear, on which he worked with producer Mike Salisbury and fellow cameraman Hugh Miles, and which was perhaps the longest and most treacherous filming expedition of his career.
The BBC Film Unit was disbanded in 1992 and Martin now works as a freelance cameraman. Martin has worked on more than 100 programmes for the BBC Natural History Unit and was awarded a BAFTA TV Award for Best Factual Photography in 1997, shared with Doug Allan, for Wildlife Specials: Polar Bear.