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|Also known as||Autumnwatch
|Created by||BBC Natural History Unit|
|Presented by||Bill Oddie (2005–2008)
Simon King (2005–2010)
Kate Humble (2005–2011)
Chris Packham (2009–)
Martin Hughes-Games (2009–)
Michaela Strachan (2011–)
|Theme music composer||David Poore|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original network||BBC Two
BBC Two HD
|Original release||30 May 2005– present|
|Preceded by||Britain Goes Wild with Bill Oddie|
Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch are annual BBC television series which chart the fortunes of British wildlife during the changing of the seasons in the United Kingdom. The programmes are broadcast live from locations around the country in a primetime evening slot on BBC Two and BBC Two HD. They require a crew of 100 and over 50 cameras, making them the BBC's largest British outside broadcast events. Many of the cameras are hidden and operated remotely to record natural behaviour, for example, of birds in their nests and badgers outside their set.
Springwatch begins on the Spring Bank Holiday and is broadcast four nights each week for three weeks. After the success of the first Springwatch in 2005, the BBC commissioned a one-off special, Autumnwatch, which became a full series in 2006. The Springwatch brand has expanded to incorporate further TV spin-offs and specials, and also has a strong online presence. The BBC Springwatch website offers further video content and allows viewers and programme makers to interact through a message board, Flickr photography group, blogs and the @BBCSpringwatch and @BBCAutumnwatch Twitter accounts.
The executive producer of Springwatch and Autumnwatch is Tim Scoones and the score was composed by David Poore. It is made by the BBC Natural History Unit, but was originally commissioned by BBC Learning with the aim of getting viewers to actively participate in wildlife conservation.
Bill Oddie, Kate Humble and Simon King were the regular presenting team until 2008. Oddie departed the programme at the beginning of 2009 (though not by his own choice). He was replaced by Chris Packham, but returned to make guest appearances in 2010 and 2014. Martin Hughes-Games, formerly a Springwatch producer, also joined the team in 2009. In September 2010, King announced he was leaving the presenting team to pursue other projects. Michaela Strachan filled in for Kate Humble during Autumnwatch 2011, reuniting her with Packham, her former co-host on The Really Wild Show. When Humble quit to take on other projects after Springwatch 2012, Strachan became her permanent replacement.
Other regular contributors include cameraman and presenter Gordon Buchanan, roving reporter Iolo Williams and sound recordist Chris Watson, who has occasionally appeared on-screen to describe his working methods.
Natural history programmes began as live outside broadcasts on BBC television in the early 1950s, when West Region's only television equipment was a mobile camera unit. The origins of Springwatch can be traced back to the 1970s, when the development of image-intensifying cameras enabled animals to be filmed in the dark. In May 1977, two remote-controlled cameras and a series of infrared lamps were installed outside a badger sett in the Cotswolds. The Natural History Unit broadcast the first live images of wild badgers during a week-long television event called Badgerwatch. Although each programme was only 10 minutes long, it created the template on which Springwatch and all the intervening series have been based, a format which has developed and expanded as technology has improved.
Badgerwatch was followed by Birdwatch, broadcast annually throughout the 1980s and presented by Tony Soper, initially from locations around Britain including Slimbridge, Minsmere, the River Exe, the Farne Islands and Martin Mere. Later series were filmed in Florida, the Netherlands and the Camargue.
In 1988 came Reefwatch, the first ever live underwater broadcast shown on British and American television. It was anchored by Soper, with divers Martha Holmes and Mike deGruy presenting during the Red Sea dive using bubble helmets (another TV first). The BBC broadcast further live series from Africa with Africawatch (1989) and Flamingowatch (1995).
Bill Oddie and Simon King joined forces for the first time to present A Bird in the Nest in 1994, featuring 5 live instalments from nestbox cameras. King also co-presented Beachwatch, a day of live broadcasts from a stretch of Norfolk coastline, which aimed to show how wildlife responded to the changing tide.
The live format was rested until 2003, when it was resurrected with Oddie, King and Kate Humble for Wild In Your Garden. The following year, the show evolved into Britain Goes Wild with Bill Oddie, and was identical to the later Springwatch and Autumnwatch series in all but name.
Surveys and campaigns
From 2005 until 2007, the BBC ran a Springwatch survey in conjunction with the Woodland Trust. Viewers were encouraged to record key events indicating the passage of spring, including the first sign of frogspawn, blossom on hawthorn trees and the arrival of swifts. By comparing the results with previous years, the surveys established that spring was arriving sooner than average. The BBC are no longer involved in the annual survey (now called Nature’s Calendar) but the results are still reported on the programme. It remains the largest survey of phenology in the world.
The BBC-led Breathing Places campaign was launched during Springwatch 2006. Awards are made to small projects across the country which aim to create small areas of wildlife-friendly habitat, particularly in cities. In the first three phases of the campaign, over £8.5 million of National Lottery funding has been awarded. Local councils and Wildlife Trusts are also involved in the partnership. Breathing Places evolved from an earlier BBC campaign called Make Space for Nature, launched in 2004 to coincide with Britain Goes Wild with Bill Oddie.
The first series of Springwatch debuted on BBC Two on 30 May 2005, and finished on 16 June. Bill Oddie and Kate Humble were based at Fishleigh Estate, an organic farm in north-west Devon (the same location had been used for the previous year’s Britain Goes Wild with Bill Oddie). Animals filmed included swallows nesting in the barn, blue tit families in nestboxes and great spotted woodpeckers visiting bird feeders. Simon King visited three locations across the country; firstly, the Isle of Mull to watch white-tailed eagles on a nest; secondly, the London Wetland Centre to observe peregrine falcons and red foxes; and finally, the Farne Islands to view the seabird colonies and grey seals. The series was judged a success, In addition, over 150,000 sightings were reported in the Springwatch survey.
The success of Springwatch led to the BBC and the Woodland Trust collaborating once again to launch an appeal for sightings of the approach of autumn. The results of the first Autumnwatch survey were presented by Bill Oddie in a one-off programme in November.
The second series of Springwatch was broadcast from 29 May to 15 June 2006. Bill Oddie and Kate Humble again presented from the Fishleigh Estate farm, where more than 50 secret cameras were rigged up to film the day-to-day dramas of nesting birds including pied flycatchers, barn owls and dabchicks. The badgers only made a single live appearance in the whole three weeks. Pre-recorded films featured moles, capercaillies and earwigs. On the Shetland Islands, Simon King followed a family of otters and a host of birds: puffins, great skuas, oystercatchers, merlins and red-throated divers. Springwatch also tracked brent geese on their spring migration from Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland to their breeding grounds in Canada's Queen Elizabeth Islands, via stopovers in Iceland and Greenland.
Live webcams around the country enabled viewers to follow animal stories on the Springwatch website. These included ospreys at Loch Garten in Scotland, red kites at Rockingham Forest in the East Midlands and pipistrelle bats in Cornwall. Spin-off programmes for children were screened on the CBeebies channel and as special editions of The Really Wild Show on the CBBC channel. The presenters were Justin Fletcher, Nick Baker and Michaela Strachan.
For 2006, Autumnwatch was extended to a two-week series, broadcast from 2–12 October. Oddie and Humble were based at Martin Mere wetland reserve in Lancashire, where they awaited the arrival of local wild swans and the return of the brent geese to Northern Island. King watched the red deer rut on the island of Rùm. In addition, cameraman Gordon Buchanan filmed a nightly grey seal diary from the Monarch Islands. British viewers could submit their sightings of natural autumn events on the Autumnwatch website, and the findings were developed into an online map showing the progression of autumn events across the country. This showed a correlation with temperature. A compilation programme featuring highlights from both 2006 series was screened on Boxing Day.
For the third series of Springwatch, broadcast from 28 May until 14 June 2007 on BBC Two, Bill Oddie and Kate Humble were once again based at the Devon farm. Birds filmed live on their nests included swallows, buzzards, jays, barn owls and jackdaws. Oddie had close encounters with an otter and a kingfisher on the River Torridge, which runs through the farm. Simon King travelled to the Hebridean island of Islay, where he filmed local specialities such as red-billed choughs, corncrakes, hen harriers, golden eagles and common shelducks. The series also featured barn owl chicks at Cornwall's Lost Gardens of Heligan, and cameras captured the moment when one chick killed and ate its younger sibling. Gordon Buchanan filmed urban red foxes in Glasgow for a pre-recorded nightly diary segment.
The 2007 series spawned more spin-offs on other BBC television channels, radio stations and the internet. Springwatch Nightshift broadcast two hours of live footage of badgers, owls and bats on BBC Two each night, and a half-hour weekly review programme aired on Friday evenings on BBC One. Children's programmes returned to CBeebies and Springwatch Trackers was launched on CBBC. Presented live from the farm each morning by Steve Backshall and Kirsten O'Brien. The Children that were hired to do the show was Charlotte Chapman who was spotted after various modeling and acting jobs, also Michael Smith a young child actor and George Bain who was in various children programs, the children were set tasks by Simon King.
A live outside broadcast from the Springwatch farm featured on Terry Wogan’s BBC Radio 2 breakfast show on 13 June, and on BBC Radio 4, a special edition of Nature on 11 June answered listeners' questions about spring.
Autumnwatch was broadcast slightly later in the year than the previous series, from 5 – 14 November. Oddie and Humble were based at Martin Mere as for the previous year, but this time King toured some of Britain's best places for viewing wildlife. There were daily pre-recorded sequences from the deer rut in Rum which had taken place earlier in the season.
For the fourth series of Springwatch, the production team moved to a new location at the Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in Norfolk due to a change of ownership at the Fishleigh Estate farm. It was broadcast on BBC Two from 26 May to 12 June. Bill Oddie and Kate Humble watched local birds on the nest, including little ringed plovers, goldcrests and reed buntings, all new species for Springwatch. Swallows, blue tits, great tits, greenfinches, pied wagtails and robins were amongst the returning species. Simon King was based in the Cairngorm National Park, where he brought viewers footage of ospreys with chicks, pine martens, Scottish wildcats, ptarmigan and crested tits.
The week after the main series ended, four Springwatch Specials were screened. Humble presented a programme on marine life, Oddie looked at garden wildlife, King focussed on spectacular British wildlife events and Gordon Buchanan met people who have interesting relationships with wildlife.
For Autumnwatch 2008, broadcast from 27 October – 6 November, Oddie and Humble were based at Brownsea Island, one of the few places in southern England where red squirrels can still be seen. King visited a variety of locations around the country, beginning with three days watching fallow deer at Petworth Park and muntjac at Birmingham Airport. He then followed up sightings of otters in a Walsall canal, but although his team found traces of the animals, they didn't manage to film them. During the second week he watched ravens on Anglesey and made two live dives off the south coast of England, managing to find and film a conger eel. Gordon Buchanan travelled to the Farne Islands to film the grey seal colony during the pupping season. Attempts to communicate with Oddie and Humble via a live satellite link, were thwarted on several occasions by bad weather conditions.
Additional content was made available on the Autumnwatch website, including live webcams, extra videos and a blog.
Springwatch returned for its fifth series, broadcast from 25 May to 11 June 2009. Bill Oddie, who had left the programme for personal health reasons, was replaced as the series' co-anchor by Chris Packham. He joined Kate Humble for the show's second year based at Pensthorpe. Simon King toured locations across north and mid-Wales, viewing Anglesey's seabird colonies, goshawks and red kites. His main challenge was to find and film a wild polecat. Wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan was based at a badger sett in Essex. Former producer Martin Hughes-Games also joined the team to present a regular feature on conservation holidays, as well as co-hosting the spin-off Springwatch Unsprung programmes. The Springwatch website continued to host regularly updated blogs, message boards and webcams, as well as wildlife information. Over the course of the series, Packham privately set himself the challenge of inserting the titles of songs by The Smiths into the script for each episode.
Three new Springwatch Specials aired after the main series had finished; King revealed some of the "tricks of the trade" of a wildlife cameraman in "Close Encounters"; Hughes-Games revealed Britain's best wildlife locations in "Holidays"; and Buchanan presented a compilation of viewers' videos in "Home Movies".
In a change from the usual format, the 2009 series of Autumnwatch was broadcast once a week every Friday for eight weeks. Executive producer Tim Scoones attributed the change to the popularity of the series' multiplatform formats, such as its Flickr group. The series ran from 2 October to 20 November 2009. Packham and Humble were based at the BBC Natural History Unit headquarters in Bristol, but owing to the late hour of broadcast, all wildlife footage was prerecorded.
Highlights from both 2009 series were shown in a Springwatch Christmas Special broadcast live on Christmas Day.
The BBC commissioned a special Snow Watch programme to show how wildlife was affected by the coldest winter weather for 35 years. The programme was created in just five days, and was broadcast on 13 January 2010 in place of a scheduled edition of Natural World. The Points West studio was used for the indoor portion of the show and the normal theme music was replaced for the end credits with the song "Walk Out to Winter" by Aztec Camera.
The sixth, three-week, 2010 edition of Springwatch began airing on BBC Two beginning on 31 May. It was preceded by three special editions, the first of which, Chris Packham's Signs of Change, about climate change, aired on 17 May. Others were shown on 19 and 20 May. The BBC supported the series with a Twitter account, @bbc_springwatch, using the hashtag #springwatch. Packham used a reference to The Cure in each episode. Brett Westwood was among the participants in the series' bird race, and Bill Oddie made a guest appearance in the penultimate episode of the series.
The series was followed on 20 June by a two-hour, live charity appeal tie-in, Wild Night In. Broadcast from London Zoo, it was fronted by Humble, Packham and Hughes-Games, with pre-recorded segments, some featuring David Attenborough.
The 2010 Autumnwatch series was broadcast every Thursday from 7 October at 8.30pm, for 8 weeks. It was once again based at from the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol. Simon King did not participate, and was replaced by a variety of reporters who took his slot each week.
A 90-minute "Springwatch Christmas Special" was broadcast on 29 December. Based at Chris Packham's house in the New Forest, the show included highlights from the 2010 series and specials, plus a number of new reports on topics that had hit the headlines during the year.
A Springwatch Easter Special was aired on BBC2 at 8pm on Easter Monday, 25 April 2011 and featured the return of Bill Oddie as a guest presenter.
The full series, presented by Kate Humble, Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games, started on Monday 30 May 2011 at 8pm on BBC 2 from a new venue, RSPB Ynys-hir in mid-Wales. During the first week Charlie Hamilton James presented daily updates on the reintroduction of beavers to the United Kingdom. At the end of week one Charlie was set the task of filming beavers live; he succeeded. During week two, Iolo Williams broadcast from Skomer Island. He was filming puffins and during the week introduced a new webcam. The presenter for week three was Liz Bonnin, at Pitsea Landfill site, filming foxes. She was set the task of filming live foxes, and succeeded. The series closed with a montage of clips of the cast "singing" the Tom Jones song It's Not Unusual, whose lyrics had been surreptitiously inserted into the script over the three-week run.
Autumnwatch returned with a new name, Autumnwatch Live on 7 October 2011. For the first four weeks it was presented from the National Arboretum at Westonbirt, and for the final four weeks, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust's Slimbridge reserve, by Michaela Strachan, Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games. Each week there was a guest presenter who focused on one particular aspect of the British countryside. These included Bill Oddie. Kate Humble did not participate due to other projects.
A Christmas Special was broadcast on Boxing Day, 26 December, recorded at Ynys-Hir and presented by Strachan, Packham, Hughes-Games and Humble, and featuring guest appearances by Chris Watson and others as well as a newly filmed sequence from Bill Oddie.
A one-off, hour-long Winterwatch was broadcast by the BBC on 22 February 2012, presented from the Brecon Beacons by Kate Humble, Chris Packham, and Martin Hughes-Games, with filmed segments by Charlie Hamilton James, Maya Plass, Gordon Buchanan, Michaela Strachan and Chris Watson.
Springwatch returned to BBC Two and BBC HD on 28 May 2012, live and direct from Ynys-hir RSPB reserve in Wales for three weeks, Monday to Thursday. Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games will present the show, with Kate Humble being replaced by Autumnwatch Live presenter Michaela Strachan. A summer special was announced on the final episode of Springwatch 2012, and Springwatch Guide to Sea Birds was broadcast on 23 August 2012.
The 2012 series of Autumnwatch started on 30 October 2012 and ran for 4 consecutive days. It was being broadcast live from the Aigas Field Centre in the Scottish Highlands. Iolo Williams reported on golden eagles from the Outer Hebrides. John Lister-Kaye, owner of the field centre, also appeared. The final episode was followed by a half-hour Unsprung programme.
A four-day Winterwatch aired between 14 and 17 January 2013, again from Aigas, with an Unsprung programme following the final episode. Following that, there was a Winterwatch special, Winterwatch 1963 - The Big Freeze, that was broadcast on 19 January.
The 2013 series of Springwatch returned on 27 May, and once again was broadcast live for three weeks from RSPB Ynys Hir. Chris Packham, Martin Hughes-Games and Michaela Strachan, returned to present, with Iolo Williams as a roving reporter. A new show called Springwatch in the Afternoon was broadcast across the first two weeks, hosted by Nick Baker, which was broadcast live on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
Autumnwatch returned on 29 October for four nights from a new location at RSPB Leighton Moss in Lancashire, with Unsprung following the final episode. A new live show Autumnwatch Extra aired on the red button and online each day.
Winterwatch returned to BBC Two between 20 and 23 January 2014, broadcast live from the Mar Lodge Estate in Aberdeenshire, with Unsprung following the final episode hosted by Nick Baker. There was a special Winterwatch Extra: Garden Birds Special on the BBC Red Button and online from 24 to 26 January 2014 hosted by Euan McIlwraith and Richard Taylor-Jones, from various locations around Great Britain.
In 2014 Springwatch celebrated its tenth anniversary by moving to a new base at RSPB Minsmere in North Suffolk. The series was broadcast on BBC Two, online and the Red Button for three weeks from 26 May to 12 June 2014. Springwatch Unsprung, hosted by Baker, was shown after the main programme, online and on the BBC Red Button from Mondays to Wednesdays and on BBC Two on Thursdays. Iolo Williams returned as the regular roving reporter, broadcasting live from the west coast of Scotland. Special features included cameraman Doug Allan's underwater footage of grey seals on Lundy, a report on how the wildlife of the Somerset Levels was affected by the winter floods and updates on the latest research into urban foxes and cuckoo migration.
Autumnwatch 2014 returned to Leighton Moss, Lancashire, with companion Extra and Unsprung strands and webcams.
Autumnwatch aired between 2 and 5 November 2015.
Since the Springwatch 2009 season, which aired from Pensthorpe in Norfolk, the Springwatch and Autumnwatch series have been accompanied by a live Unsprung programme, a half-hour show that airs once a week and answers viewers' wildlife questions, along with audience surveys and "pub quizzes" filmed in the main studio.
The information in the table below is from the series section above. The table is a clear summary of the information above on different presenters and when they presented.
|2005||Springwatch||Bill Oddie||Kate Humble||N/A||Simon King|
|2009||Springwatch||Chris Packham||Martin Hughes-Games|
|Springwatch at Easter||Simon King|
Following Simon King's departure in 2010, the role of field reporter has been filled by guest presenters including Gordon Buchanan, Charlie Hamilton James, Iolo Williams, Liz Bonnin and Michaela Strachan. Other presenters involved in the programmes include Roy Dennis, Johnny Kingdom, Leah Gooding, Richard Taylor-Jones, Chris Watson, Doug Allan, Nick Baker (presenter of Springwatch in the Afternoon in 2013 and Springwatch Unsprung in 2014), Euan McIlwraith and Brett Westwood (co-presenters of Springwatch Extra in 2014).
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The theme music was commissioned by the BBC from independent composer David Poore, and was nominated for a Royal Television Society award in 2007. David has also produced music for many documentaries by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, National Geographic Channel, Disney, RTÉ and other broadcasters.
Awards and nominations
- "Best Pre-school Live Action Series" awarded to CBeebies Springwatch at the 2006 BAFTA Children's Awards. (Producers: Clare Bradley & Tony Reed; Director: Aliex Yuill)
- Springwatch nominated for Best Title Theme at the Royal Television Society Awards in 2007 (Composer: David Poore)
- Cbeebies Autumn Watch nominated for Best Children's Live-Action Series at the 2007 BAFTA Children's Awards. (Producers: Clare Bradley & Helen Darrington; Directors: Lotte Elwell & Susannah Udall)
- "Bill Oddie to return to Springwatch for tenth anniversary". Radio Times. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
- Tim Scoones (2009-03-18). "Springwatch 2009 - new presenter team announced". BBC. Retrieved 2009-03-21.
- "Simon King and Autumnwatch". talkwildlife.com. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
- Furness, Hannah (8 March 2012). "Kate Humble to leave Springwatch". The Daily Telegraph (London).
- "Springwatch Trackers". ukgameshows.com. Retrieved 5 January 2008.
- "Spring Questions". BBC Radio. Retrieved 13 June 2007.
- "Simon King Events". Archived from the original on 9 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
- "Autumnwatch 2008 comes to Brownsea Island". Dorset Wildlife Trust. Retrieved 2008-09-09.
- "Well I Warbler! Packham reveals Smiths song-title lark in Springwatch". The Guardian (London). 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-10.
- "Montage of Smiths references". 13 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-14.
- McMahon, Kate (11 June 2009). "Autumnwatch extended to cash in on web appeal". Broadcast (Emap Media). Retrieved 11 June 2009.
- "Springwatch Press Pack". BBC Press Office. 2010-05-07.
- "BBC Springwatch (BBC_Springwatch) on Twitter". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
- Packham, Chris. "The Cure: From The Smiths to Robert". BBC Online. BBC Nature. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
- "Wild Night In". BBC. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
- "Christmas Special". Springwatch. 2011-12-26. BBC.
- "Winterwatch". Winterwatch. 2012-02-22. BBC. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
- Martin Hughes-Games. "Nature UK: Springwatch Unsprung is back for 2012!". BBC. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
- "BBC Two - Autumnwatch". BBC Online. BBC. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
- "2012 October 31". Autumnwatch. Episode 2. 2012-10-31. BBC. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
- "Coming up on Winterwatch 2013". BBC Online. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- Holly Spearing. "Blogs - Autumnwatch - Springwatch returns and announcing Springwatch in the Afternoon". BBC. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
- "Twitter / BBCAutumnwatch: . @PabP54 Autumnwatch returns". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
- James Smith. "Blogs - Autumnwatch - Autumnwatch returns from a new location". BBC. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
-  Archived 7 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
- James Smith (2014-05-08). "Blogs - Springwatch - Springwatch returns on 26th May 2014". BBC. Retrieved 2014-06-30.
- "Springwatch 2014". BBC Media Centre. Retrieved 14 June 2014.
- "Springwatch at Easter" at BBC Programmes
- "Episode 1 of 12" at BBC Programmes
- "Autumnwatch Day One (Episode 1 of 4)" at BBC Programmes
- "BBC Two - Autumnwatch Unsprung, 2012, Episode 1". Bbc.co.uk. 2012-11-02. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
- Oddie, Bill; Kate Humble; Simon King; Stephen Moss (2007). Springwatch and Autumnwatch. London :: Collins,. pp. 256 p. : col. ill., col. ports. ; 26 cm. ISBN 0-00-724706-0.
- "Past Winners and Nominees - Children's - Awards - 2006". BAFTA. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
- "Past Winners and Nominees - Children's - Awards - 2007". BAFTA. Retrieved 2010-01-13.