John Sparks, born in Colchester, is a zoologist and naturalist with a special interest in birds. After graduating at Queen Mary College, University of London, he became a Research Fellow at the London Zoo in a new unit headed by Desmond Morris. In 1965 he moved to Bristol and spent the rest of his professional life as a TV Producer in the BBC’s renowned Natural History Unit, becoming its Head between 1983 and 1988.
He has travelled all over the world making wildlife films, including five of Sir David Attenborough’s benchmark series, Life on Earth. After running the department, he made an award-winning series about the natural history of the USSR called Realms of the Russian Bear which involved filming all over the Soviet empire. Then a senior figure in the wildlife programme business, he became the Executive Producer of BBC-2s prestigious and long running series The Natural World.
In 1997, he went freelance and, among other things, made a six-part series about animal courtship and mating for BBC-2 The Battle of the Sexes. John has written 11 books, two with Tony Soper covering animal behaviour, penguins, owls, parrots, and others accompanied four of his television series. Recently he has developed a fascination for the polar regions and seabirds. His quest to see these ocean wanderers and to enthuse fellow travellers has taken him on voyages all over the world – including many times to Antarctica.
He is a Trustee of the Gaia Trust, holds RYA powerboat and day skippers certificates, and has a PADI diving qualification. He is a keen photographer, a bibliophile, is interested in Victorian microscopes, plays the pipe organ but not as well as Bach, and flies a weight-shift microlight to emulate what birds can do better! John lives in Bristol with his wife Sally who is a creative embroiderer and expert on the costumes of the Maio tribal people of SW China.