David Attenborough, the 'academic' brother of Lord 'Dickie' Attenborough, is as well known in British households as any acting star - and more loved than most. For decades, the often windswept, rain-lashed, always dishevelled-looking presenter has brought the world's most exotic wildlife into our living rooms from the remotest and most inhospitable corners of the world. No one who has seen it can forget his barely audible voice and unmoving body as he sat among the gorillas of the African highlands or his frozen features in the icelands of Antarctica. What few people remember is that Attenborough was once the controller of BBC2; he gave up the highly political inside job to return to the field to make such epic series as Life On Earth, The Living Planet, The Trials Of Life and The Private Lives Of Plants. Attenborough In Paradise (Pearl, 6.20pm) was the realisation of a long-held dream; ever since he was nine, Attenborough has had a passion for Birds Of Paradise. Together with two film crews, he headed for Papua New Guinea, which is home to more than 30 species of Birds of Paradise and 10 species of bowerbird, shy creatures living in the remotest areas of the rainforest - some of which had never before been filmed or scientifically described. He spent four weeks camped deep in the rainforest, ascending ropes to the tops of giant trees and waiting patiently in mosquito-filled hides to catch a glimpse of the amazing birds. From the iridescent fans and fountains, spheres and skirts of the courting birds of paradise to the brightly decorated ornamental showcases of the bowerbirds, Attenborough delights in the unique display of unforgettable natural beauty. Man's Heritage (Pearl, 8.30pm) also transports us to the rainforest, this time in Africa, to look at what happens when a tree falls. It seems the skylights created in the closed roof of the forest play a key role in its regeneration and diversity. In most rainforests, when 10 times the usual amount of sunlight floods the forest floor, there is a race to fill the gap; in Africa, the race is slowed by elephants. By breaking down the young trees and maintaining the open clearings, they are the most important shapers of the forest. In this film narrated by actor Ian Holm, Alan Root looks at the intimate lives of the animals that live in these forest glades. The list of weird creatures is like the cast of the saloon scene in Star Wars, pottos, pangolins, rhinoceros vipers, giant otter-shrews, flying squirrels, water chevrotains, goliath beetles, two-headed snakes, elephant shrews, Congo peacocks and okapi. Gene Hackman may be one of the least likely looking and most unprepossessing of film stars but he is also one of the most reliable. At the age of 30, Hackman came relatively late to the acting business, having spent his twenties in any number of jobs, including journalism. Sadly, Company Business (Pearl, 9.30pm), a spy comedy starring Mikhail Baryshnikov (in a stereotypical role), does little credit to his comedic talents. The pair act as spies (one KGB, one CIA) who are forced to become allies when a spy swap goes wrong. Eric Roberts (whose sister, Julia, made her film debut in his starring vehicle Blood Red ) started acting at the age of five. Though he was tipped for stardom, his choice of films has been wayward. Descending Angel (World, 12.40am) is a much better than average made-for-cable thriller with Roberts looking into the past of his girlfriend's Romanian immigrant father, a solid George C. Scott.