The BBC today announced a special season of programming and showcase events that will celebrate the UK’s unique and extraordinary wildlife.
The Summer of Wildlife season will harness the power of much-loved BBC programmes as well as creating groundbreaking new content. The aim is to inspire and galvanise people to discover more about the incredible species and habitats on their doorstep.
BBC Learning is at the heart of the season, co-commissioning programming with BBC One, BBC Two and CBBC, and bringing it together with major events across the UK, must-have materials, and an online experience that will reveal the nation’s wildlife in a new light.
Abigail Appleton, Head of Commissioning for BBC Learning, said: “We want the season to inspire audiences right across the UK – whether they live in cities, towns or the countryside – to get closer to our extraordinary wild neighbours.
“The season features wonderful content across TV, radio and online and the chance to see some of our best known wildlife presenters and experts close up at BBC live events. There will also be hundreds of other local wildlife activities and events run by our partners. By the end of the summer, we hope millions of people will have discovered more about UK wildlife, know how to recognise and spot animals, and understand what we can do to help protect this country’s unique species.”
The season will kick off with BBC Two’s Springwatch with three weeks of live programming from Ynys-hir in mid-Wales, presented by Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games.
As well as featuring the best of UK wildlife as Spring unfolds, the new series will include ‘Tricks of the Trade’ with the team revealing their wildlife tracking tips; ‘On the Road with the Roving Team’ providing an insight into the wildlife we share our daily lives with; and ‘Escape to the Garden’ that will discover, meet, and celebrate the wildlife that lives on our doorstep. The series will also help to launch Springwatch Garden BioBlitz, helping draw attention to the importance of peoples’ local wildlife ‘patch’ and inviting the audience to get involved.
There is also a new Springwatch Daytime and Learning co-commission, Springwatch In The Afternoon, presented by naturalist Nick Baker. The programme will broadcast live on BBC Two from the heart of the Springwatch field base in Wales. Nick will give privileged behind-the-scenes tours of the Springwatch broadcast site, meeting the presenters, production crew and field experts that make it all happen. He will also be offering lots of practical advice on how to watch, photograph and help wildlife, inspiring viewers to find out what fascinating and beautiful creatures are around in their local patch and beyond.
Wild! is a new commission from CBBC that will encourage children to get out, get active and get hands on this summer. Live from a different location each week, the programme will take on exciting challenges that will look to reconnect kids with nature. Presenters include Naomi Wilkinson. The experience will be taken beyond the TV with fun online resources and activities that kids can do with family and friends at home.
As the summer continues, Britain’s Big Wildlife Revival on BBC One will show what people can do to save Britain’s threatened wildlife. A six-part series made by Outline Productions, it will be fronted by Countryfile’s Ellie Harrison. She is joined each week by some of the BBC’s most passionate and experienced wildlife presenters – who all have the same aim – to highlight the plight of Britain’s most-at-risk creatures. Each will champion a wild creature they feel passionately about – and want to bring back from the brink – including some of the most iconic British animals from hares to house sparrows, kingfishers to red squirrels.
The Burrowers on BBC Two is a remarkable three-part series that will explore the extraordinary subterranean world of voles, rabbits, badgers and moles. Made by Dragonfly, the groundbreaking series has been filmed in specially created full-scale burrows and uses exciting camera technology to witness animal behaviour never viewed before. Presented by Chris Packham, with expert guidance from scientists, vets and specialist filmmakers, The Burrowers will follow the lives of these animals as they give birth and raise the next generation.
The season will also include special programming across local radio and Countryfile will feature four specially commissioned wildlife films from renowned wildlife cameraman Richard Taylor–Jones.
As summer fades to autumn, the campaign will be drawn to a close with Autumnwatch, outlining the successes, events and findings of the summer.
To accompany the programmes, BBC Learning is holding two major family events. Working with partner organizations, the events will provide hands-on experience of conservation practices, demonstrations and volunteering activities.
As well as the BBC-led events there will also be hundreds of local wildlife activities and events, run by the BBC’s partners, taking place throughout the UK.
Online at bbc.co.uk/summerofwildlife there will be an array of new content to discover, drawing on unique footage and archive material and linking to partner events and activities such as citizen science projects. There will be clips from The Burrowers including Chris Packham’s ‘How to Spot’ animal guides and gardener Mike Dilger fronts some short films providing tips on how you can encourage wildlife in your own garden or local green space. The website will provide a place for people to share experiences and photos and will also act as a guide to where people can go to watch, identify and help UK wildlife with links to nature and wildlife organisations that can provide further information.
In addition to the BBC events and the online offering, BBC Learning is producing a number of resources to accompany the season including a Summer of Wildlife Handbook with information, activities and challenges for families. The BBC will also be joining up with partner organisations including The National Trust, the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and many more, to support a range of wider initiatives.
Chris Packham says: “The Summer of Wildlife is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our UK wildlife. That’s all of us – in towns, cities and the countryside – and all wildlife; big, small, feathered, furred, scaled, the creeping, crawling and slithering. We would like everyone to get involved in their community, young and old, we want them to enjoy the species that live around them and learn more about looking after them. Please join in! ”