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THE MISSING LINK; We find Attenborough brother No. 3.


THEY are the superstar brothers whose incredible talents are recognised around the world.

Richard "Gandhi" Attenborough, 77, friend of the royals and presidents, was created a life peer for his work as an actor, producer and director spanning 50 years.

Sir David Attenborough, 74, is the toast of British television after his landmark State of the Planet series was launched on BBC1 this month, reinforcing his position as the world's foremost wildlife broadcaster.

The two brothers are millionaires.

But, unknown to most of the public and their showbiz and television colleagues, the pair have a "secret" brother. John Michael Attenborough, 71, is the third son and "baby" of the family.

While his two elder brothers enjoyed the limelight, John was working in the car industry, then became a financial consultant. The Sunday Mirror tracked down John and his wife Janet to their pounds 200,000 Regency-style home in Bournemouth, where he revealed that while his brothers are comfortable with their fame, he has spent a lifetime trying to stay out of the limelight.

John, who looks and sounds just like his brothers, spoke for the first time about life in the shadow of his famous family.

"When I mention my name people often ask me if I am related and if I feel envious that I have not achieved fame.

"But I can quite truthfully say that I am very proud of my brothers and I am very happy with my life." The difference in lifestyles was shown when Lord Attenborough arrived in Bournemouth to promote his latest film, Grey Owl, in his chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce.

John is content with a rusty D-reg Rover with 120,000 miles on the clock.

But he does have the family's characteristic drive to succeed, and it took him to the top of the car industry. He was once managing director of the Rolls- Royce division of Mann Egerton in London's Berkeley Street, then chief of Alfa Romeo in Britain, and later head of a motor distributorship in Dorset. In his fifties, he decided to quit the rat race and became a financial consultant.

Was he ever tempted to try a TV or acting career?

John, who has two sons, said: "When I was 14 I played the lead in an amateur production of a Noel Coward play.

"I had to do a love scene with a woman in her thirties. I knelt down to propose to her and my mother and father in the audience just couldn't control themselves and collapsed in laughter.

"I decided then that the spotlight was not for me."


HAPPY TRIO: Young John, David and Richard. Inset, the famous brothers; QUIET LIFE: Brother John prefers to stay out of the limelight
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 26, 2000
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