Attenborough is famous to many filmgoers as John Hammond in Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park, but he appeared in innumerable classics, such as The Great Escape and Brighton Rock.
He was also a successful director, helming biopics Chaplin and Gandhi. The latter won the Best Picture award at the 1983 Oscars, beating E.T. to the prize. It was a decision Attenborough later criticised.
He told the BBC: "[Business partner] Diana and I went to see ET in Los Angeles shortly before all the awards and we used language, when we came out, to the extent of saying ‘we have no chance - ET should and will walk away with it’."
"Without the initial premise of Mahatma Gandhi, the film would be nothing. Therefore it’s a narrative film but it’s a piece of narration rather than a piece of cinema, as such.
"ET depended absolutely on the concept of cinema and I think that Steven Spielberg, who I’m very fond of, is a genius.
"I think ET is a quite extraordinary piece of cinema."
Speaking at a tribute dinner to Attenborough in June 2013, Spielberg said: "He’s made some of the best movies of all time — he made Gandhi! — and has made such a contribution to society, to cinema and to everyone whose hearts he has touched with his words, works, his leadership and that divine inspiration that radiates from that wonderful smile."