Springwatch: the inimitable Bill Oddie talks to Saga

Springwatch's inimitable presenter, the former Goodie, naturalist and twitcher extraordinaire Bill Oddie told Saga how the popular programme came into being, plus... Harry Hill, Kate Humble's plans for world domination, Chris Packham's model features, blogging, tweeting and anything else that came into his head.
Bill OddieBill Oddie

"Well, well, I never thought I’d see the day. Maybe you never thought you'd see it either. Not if you were already tuning in to Springwatch in the olden times. Before it was even called Springwatch. It started as 'Wild In Your Garden', live from several gardens in Bristol. Next year it went nationwide and became Springwatch by any other name. In fact, the other name was 'Britain Goes Wild'. In the third season, it was finally officially christened Springwatch, which bothered me a bit at the time because it was broadcast in early June, which I rather pedantically pointed out is not spring, unless you live in the Arctic. On the other hand, I had to concede that Springwatch was a very snappy name, perfect for BBC 'branding', and ripe for imitation and parody. Harry Hill must be eternally grateful.

"Anyway, the thing is, back in the early years we were only just beginning to embrace digital technology. Or rather everyone was except me. It became something of a running gag that I didn't even own a computer, let alone know how it worked. I even claimed that my lips were physically incapable of saying 'www' 'forward slash' or even 'dot com'. I insisted that if there were to be any references to 'websites' Kate Humble would do them, which she gamely did, despite my attempts to distract her by waving leaflets or miming using an old fashioned telephone.

"Well, well, how times have changed since then. On Spring and Autumnwatch I have been replaced by a younger model. Actually, Chris Packham isn't a model - although he certainly has the looks - he is a fantastic naturalist, continuing I am happy to note a habit of courting controversy, of which I entirely approve, even if I don't always agree! Simon King has flapped off into cyberspace. I recommend you track him down. While Kate is off pursuing her plan to conquer the world and the entire BBC output. Spices, lambs, birds, animals. Why not combine the lot? 'How to Cook Wildlife - Live!' If Kate doesn't do it, I bet Harry Hill will.

"And what about me ? Well, frankly, even I don't know that. Tell you what, why not visit my website?

"What! Bill Oddie has a website!? Oh yes, and apparently I am on Facebook and Twitter. Except that I am not. Whoever is using my name, it's not me.

"Most recently – I’m getting to the point at last! - I have been recording a short item for the Springwatch Easter Special. Didn't know there was one? Nor me. But there must be, cos I'm on it, a bit. And - wait for it - what do you think I am doing? An item on computers of course! I am explaining how you can enhance your wildlife watching by using the internet! Not only do I recommend various websites you can visit, I also assure you that finding them, navigating round them, and following links to other related sites is really really easy. And to prove it, I am seen doing it myself! No camera tricks. No 'stand in' for the close ups. It is my hand on the mouse. Those are my very own fingers doing the clicking. It is also my voice assuring you that 'if I can do it, anybody can.' And you know what? I am enjoying it. I think you will too.

"Meanwhile, it's a lovely April spring day In London and I absolutely refuse to stay stuck at my desk for a minute longer staring at a flipping screen. There is only one place I want to be - out!

"Wildlife on the telly, or on the computer, great, but you can't beat the real thing.

"It's been nice blogging. By the way, what is a 'blog'?"

Written by Bill Oddie.

Springwatch: www.bbc.co.uk/springwatch

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  • stewart moore

    Posted: Friday 10 February 2012

    Hi there whoever you are; Maybe you could see that Bill Oddie gets this message in person:
    Bill when I moved into rooms at Trinity College Dublin about 50 years ago, I inherited a large canvas depicting a mythical city, signed "ODDIE". Your brother I was told. It is now in my garage as it is too big for the house. (3'x 4' approx.)
    I would like to find it a safer home and I wonder if you or he would be interested in having it?
    Yours, Stewart Moore.

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