The Magical Forest - Gorgeous Documentary BBC: Our Living Planet
The Magical Forest - Gorgeous Documentary BBC: Our Living Planet.
Why a Gecko Need a Giraffe?
July 12, 2014
"Secrets of Our Living Planet" showcases the incredible ecosystems that make life on Earth possible. Using beautifully shot scenes in the wild, Chris Packham reveals the hidden wonder of the creatures that we share the planet with, and the intricate, clever and bizarre connections between the species, without which life just could not survive.
Discover previously unknown relationships, like why a tiger needs a crab, or why a gecko needs a giraffe. Chris visits the planet's most vital and spectacular habitats and dissects it to reveal the secrets of how our living planet works.
See more at: http://www.forbiddenknowledgetv.com/videos/earth-sciences/the-magical-fo... **** About Chris Pakham: Chris Packham Known for being outspoken, Chris Packham has suggested people should have fewer children and has called for cat and dog curfews. Photograph: Nature's Weirdest Events
He has a speech impediment, a debilitating disease of the inner ear and his middle name is Gary: Chris Packham is not a natural television star. But the presenter of Springwatch and Secrets of Our Living Planet, his widely praised new BBC series, is increasingly ubiquitous, whether trading jokes on Never Mind the Buzzcocks or challenging middle England's love of cats and dogs. Will Young has a crush on him, the naturalist Stephen Moss calls him "a genius" but there is one word that everyone uses when talking of Packham: passion.
"If you're going to be a factual presenter you've got to be passionate but you've got to back that up with knowledge," says his Springwatch co-presenter Martin Hughes-Games. "He's got both in spades."
A boyish 51, Packham is being talked about as the natural successor to Sir David Attenborough. It is a remarkable turnaround. Ten years ago, Packham was in the television wilderness, according to one senior broadcasting figure.
Why? "People decided they didn't want him. Chris hadn't done anything wrong, they just didn't like him – he had a funny speech impediment and he's a bit quirky and a bit serious," says the source. "If you suggested Chris Packham as a presenter for a wildlife series in a meeting it was like you'd put a dog turd on the table. Now he's flavour of the month. That shows you how fickle and stupid TV people are. He hasn't changed."
Actually, Packham may have. After a childhood messing about in the Itchen valley in Hampshire, pursuing obsessions with insects, reptiles, bats and birds, Packham became what he called "a terribly antisocial" swot at Southampton University. He visited the student union bar once, preferring to spend evenings counting badger droppings in the New Forest.
A love of Aston Martins meant he looked beyond academia for work, training as a wildlife cameraman before, aged 23, fighting "ferociously" for an audition for a new children's nature programme.
Packham got the job and a generation – and most of the Springwatch crew – grew up watching the bleach-blond, spiky-haired punk-naturalist on The Really Wild Show in the 1980s. "Chris was fabulous and beautiful and super, super-confident," says Nicola Davies, co-presenter alongside Packham and Terry Nutkins.
Living at home, Packham quickly acquired a collection of fast cars, including a cherry-red Aston Martin. His sister, Jenny – now a fashion designer – made him spectacular animal-print shirts and Packham would say "ridiculous" rock'n'roll things such as "I don't want to live until I'm 30 – I'm going to drive my Harley into a wall," remembers Davies, now a children's author. In fact, Packham "was super-ambitious and incredibly sensible because he realised something I didn't – you have to make sure you promote yourself", she says.
Davies appreciated his intelligence and wit but never became close friends with Packham, who instead formed an "Eric- and Ernie-type bond" with Nutkins. In fact, the pair were so inseparable that Davies "crawled out of the door with my confidence squished flat by two enormous male egos". Now, however, she is full of admiration for her former rival. "When I first knew him he was just naked ambition. He's matured enormously as a broadcaster and as a human being," she says.
Packham left The Really Wild Show nearly 20 years ago but only returned to primetime TV in 2009 when he replaced his friend Bill Oddie on Springwatch. The "wilderness" years – in which Packham ran a wildlife production company, pursued his interest in wildlife photography and became a presenter on a BBC South version of the Inside Out series – were ended by Tony Parker, a BBC editor who created a daytime TV series, Hands on Nature, for Packham in 2005.
Passion "just seems to work on camera", says Parker and Packham's "passion for nature was infectious". His regional TV years gave him valuable television "flying time, honing his talent in front of the camera", the editor says. "The people who are really comfortable in front of camera have been doing it for a long time."
The alluring parade of live – and dead – wildlife that is Springwatch has proved so popular that there will be a Summerwatch special this year as well as Autumnwatch. With the departure of Kate Humble, Packham is very much the show's senior figure. "If Chris wasn't on Springwatch it wouldn't be one eighth of the programme it is, let's be honest," says Hughes-Games.
Three weeks of live television is an arduous physical challenge and Hughes-Games reveals that Packham nearly didn't survive the final week this year. After Springwatch's production HQ was destroyed by floods at Ynys-Hir nature reserve, Packham, who also has Ménière's disease, a condition of the inner ear that can cause terrible vertigo, came down with an intestinal infection and couldn't eat for three days – and still cruised through the live shows.
In a nation traditionally distrustful of public intellectuals, Packham may be too clever by half for some tastes. Every year he slips song titles into Springwatch, beginning with his beloved Smiths and continuing this year with David Bowie.
The thing that strikes his colleagues – and Packham himself says he has many colleagues and few close friends – is how he "is always hungry to know more", as Hughes-Games puts it. "On the few occasions I've been able to let him know something that he didn't know, he's absolutely delighted. There's never any pride in him wanting to be the knowledgeable one."
In the minute before the live show starts, Packham likes to tell a complicated anecdote that he finishes with three seconds spare, causing everyone on set to fall about laughing as the programme begins. "I think he does it to test us," says Hughes-Games. "He's a bloody clever bloke. It's a fantastic mental exercise being with Chris. It's like mental press-ups."
On the ground, working conservationists sometimes sneer at naturalist celebrities but Packham – who supports numerous small charities from the Bat Conservation Trust to the Hawk and Owl Trust – commands the kind of reverence previously reserved for Attenborough. "A lot of presenters don't have in-depth knowledge but he's a proper naturalist," says Debbie Tann, chief executive of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, where Packham is vice-president.
Despite his strenuous TV schedule, Packham still attends his local conservation group's AGMs – where he shares Attenborough's ability to make brilliant, off-the-cuff speeches – and regularly presents children with nature awards. "He has been a tremendous advocate for inspiring kids about nature," says Stephanie Hilborne, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts. "It's that excitement in nature," she says of Packham's ability to communicate challenging ideas without talking down to adults or children. "If you retain it as an adult, you can see it in kids and want to share it with them."
With passion comes opinions, and Packham is more outspoken than most celebrities. He has described himself as "the Pol Pot of nature conservation" for suggesting the giant panda should be allowed to become extinct. As patron of Population Matters, he has called on people to have fewer children. Most recently he argued for curfews and tighter controls on dogs and cats to stop them destroying wildlife.
He likes to "challenge" wildlife charities, according to Tann. "Sometimes he says, 'Why aren't you in the papers all the time? Why aren't you speaking out?' He gets frustrated we aren't writing these controversial pieces. I support what he's saying but it comes better from him."
Packham is increasingly in demand to front the kind of ambitious global environmental programmes that the BBC's Natural History Unit is famed for. This summer he is to live for six weeks on a glacier as part of a new series.
Is Packham the next Attenborough? "Come on, you can't say that," says Hughes-Games. "There's never going to be another David Attenborough."
Packham has "a bit of an edge to him" and may not be suited to traditional documentaries, thinks Hughes-Games. "Chris has an intensity about him that isn't probably suited to all programmes. I've never asked him but he probably wouldn't want to do Frozen Planet – he wants to investigate, he wants to follow a thesis, he's very logical and analytical."
Davies believes Packham is being groomed. "Heaven forfend that they should have a woman as the next David Attenborough. There's a whole string of us lying by the wayside – the [BBC] Natural History Unit is still a great bastion of sexism," she says. Nevertheless, Packham is "a very worthy successor" to Attenborough, she thinks.
She only hopes he is allowed to continue to speak his mind. "Chris is brave. The fact that he is confident and can be a bit arrogant sometimes is a strength because he is not going to be knocked down. He'll bite back and that's terrific. It's a question of whether the BBC has got the balls."
Moss, the naturalist and former executive producer of Springwatch, hopes the BBC gives Packham free rein. "I hope the BBC hangs on to him and doesn't worry when he says something controversial, because we need people to be controversial. For too long we haven't had anyone who speaks out for nature, and he does," says Moss. "He says stuff because he's thought it through and he'll grow into a really wonderful force for conservation, which is what we need – if the BBC let him."
Career: Packham took a BSc in zoology at the University of Southampton and then abandoned his PhD to train as a wildlife cameraman. Packham enjoys reading internet trolls' abuse about him, and has a wide hinterland of interests from history to punk rock, Southampton FC to freshly ironed T-shirts – aired outdoors, of course.
High point: Flying in a Spitfire while filming for BBC Inside Out
Low point: Spending an evening on a hen night for the same series
What he says: "I do not now – and never have had – any desire whatsoever to reproduce myself"
What they say: "Surely this guy is the solution to the post-Attenborough problem. Articulate, wryly funny and impressively unsentimental, he makes Springwatch must-see TV" – Kevin O'Sullivan, The Mirror. http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2012/jul/09/chris-packham-next-d....Filed under: People
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