David Attenborough says penguins should have been left to die

David Attenborough has criticised his own crew for saving a group of penguin chicks.

At the launch of his new show Dynasties, the veteran broadcaster reportedly said they should have been left to die because "tragedy is a part of life".

"You can't have sunshine throughout your life. To have done anything else would only make matters worse and distort the truth," he said, reports UK tabloid The Sun.

The series focuses on the five different species' struggle for survival in the wild - lions, tigers, painted wolves, chimpanzees and emperor penguins.

The crew were shooting scenes in Antarctica when they came across a flock of penguins stuck in a ravine. Rather than leave them to die without food, they built the flightless family some steps so they could escape.

"We have a rule that interfering is a very dangerous thing to do, but these penguins were going to die through a freak act of nature if nothing happened," producer Michael Gunton said at the launch.

"How would this conversation be going if you said you saw them there and did nothing? I think you have to do it."

But the 92-year-old star of the show disagreed.

"All you're doing is prolonging the death, so you make things infinitely worse," he said. "Tragedy is part of life and you have to show it."

Though widely loved, Attenborough did receive criticism when his 2013 series Africa showed a baby elephant dying from dehydration, and its mother's grief.

Producer James Honeyborne said at the time they had to "lay open the broad pallet of what is happening in nature."

"Some of it is joyous and some of it is tough to watch."