A 1956 David Attenborough series that brought images of the Komodo dragon into British viewers' homes for the first time is to be made available online.

The BBC archive has put online all six episodes of Attenborough's series Zoo Quest for a Dragon, one of his first major natural history projects for the corporation and the third in his Zoo Quest series.

The series follows his journey to Indonesia in search of a Komodo dragon, encountering along the way crocodiles, baby bears and an orphaned orang-utan that went on to father the first of its species to be born in London Zoo.

Visitors to the website can also watch a new interview with Attenborough about the series and explore background material such as photographs, audience reports and handwritten letters from Attenborough to his production team and the friends he made during filming.

The documents reveal that Attenborough claimed £20.10 in clothing expenses for the six-week expedition, including six pairs of long stockings and a £10 tropical suit.

The audience reports demonstrate that Attenborough was a popular presenter even then. Viewers variously described him as “a grand boy”, “the finest type of young Englishman” and thanked him for taking them on “a tip-top conducted tour”.

Attenborough said of the project: “Zoo Quest was a true adventure in all senses of the word. Looking back to over 50 years ago, it's interesting to see how the BBC's natural history documentaries were just as popular then as they are today.

“Although the technology in those days wasn't quite as advanced as it is today, I am pleased that this series of Zoo Quest was the first time the Komodo dragon had been seen on British television.”