Star Interview: Chris Packham

An owl with Chris Packham.
An owl with Chris Packham.

‘I’m no bunny-hugging softy,” said TV wildlife expert, Chris Packham, with emphasis, responding to my question about whether he was surprised about the backlash his recent comments against the badger cull had attracted.

Last year Chris was outspoken about his lack of support for the plan to kill off badgers in certain areas of the country to prevent the spread of bovine TB.

He said: “There is a number of people who don’t like people like me telling the truth. I’m lucky to have a great job, but ultimately I want to make a difference. I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to make a difference.

“If badgers needed culling, I would say it. There are animals who need culling and there are others which do not. Someone has to say it and a lot of other people have spoken out. There are plenty of other things going on, like the persecution of rats which is very serious in the UK.

“If you stick your head out on a subject it will be cut off, but I don’t care.”

Speaking to Chris, there is no doubt he is passionate about conservation. And Chris is currently planning to take his views, his varied photographs and his valuable insight into ecologies and animal behaviour, and include them in his latest tour, Wild Night Out, which stops off at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate on Wednesday, February 5.

Chris, who is perhaps best known as a current Springwatch and former The Really Wild Show presenter, explained: “Every year I do a new talk. This is about animal behaviour, it is about animals and what they do. It profiles species so people know what I’m talking about. I look at carnivores and how other people in Europe live alongside these animals and how our biggest carnivore is the fox. We learn about the reality of living with huge carnivores.”

As well as his presenting work, Chris is also known for his photography, which will also be showcased as part of the talk.

He said: “You have to be ridiculously critical about your own photos. I don’t have a single photo I would say I’m pleased with. The only way you are going to achieve is by thinking ‘I haven’t done well enough’. When I get a message to say ‘I have taken this brilliant photo’, my heart sinks.”

Chris’s love of wildlife started from an early age. He said: “My parents say that, from a young age, I was crawling around looking at wildlife and ladybirds. My grandmother bought me wildlife books for my second and third birthdays and I remember every image in them.”

Still remembered for his work in the 1980s as presenter of the popular children’s programme, The Really Wild Show, Chris speaks out about how he wishes there were more kids’ TV today promoting an understanding of nature and conservation issues.

Chris said: “Steve Backshall, all credit to him, seems to be the only one flying the flag and he does a brilliant job of introducing young people to conservation. We are lucky a lot of families watch Springwatch and Autumnwatch. I know a lot of kids who love it. If I had one TV wish it would be for these programmes to go out earlier in the day.”