Au­tum­n­watch

Chris Pack­ham, Michaela Stra­chan and gil­lian Burke on vis­it­ing New eng­land to wit­ness one of the great­est au­tum­nal spec­ta­cles on earth…

TV Times - - My Tv Times Week - Elaine Reilly

Mon-thu / BBC2

As a huge an­i­mal lover, I’m jeal­ous of Chris Pack­ham, Michaela Stra­chan and Gil­lian Burke as they head to New Eng­land, Amer­ica, for four spe­cial shows this week. Chris joined us to re­veal what’s on his to-see list…

NEW Na­ture Au­tum­n­watch New Eng­land MON­DAY-THURS­DAY / BBC2 / 8PM

Leaves are crunch­ing be­neath our feet, the great de­bate about when to put the heat­ing on has be­gun, and the crisp days are get­ting darker ear­lier. That can only mean one thing – Au­tum­n­watch is about to burst back onto our screens!

This year’s se­ries, how­ever, will be a bit dif­fer­ent be­cause the BBC2 wildlife show is be­ing broad­cast from Amer­ica. Pre­sen­ters Chris Pack­ham, Michaela Stra­chan and Gil­lian Burke are head­ing to Squam Lake in New Hamp­shire, which is in the heart of New Eng­land, to set up camp and wit­ness six and a half bil­lion trees create a spec­ta­cle of colour that can be seen from space!

Mean­while, hid­den cam­eras will cap­ture the lo­cal wildlife in ac­tion, in­clud­ing moose, black bears, fly­ing squir­rels, coy­otes and rac­coons.

TV Times caught up with Chris, 57, for an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view about what’s in store for view­ers…

The last few Watches were filmed at Sher­borne Park Es­tate in the Cotswolds. How does it feel to be head­ing State­side?

It was great to be at Sher­borne be­cause we achieved our mis­sion of want­ing to fol­low one place through all four sea­sons. But, of course, it’s al­ways ex­cit­ing to go some­where new, par­tic­u­larly over­seas!

What are you most look­ing for­ward to in this se­ries? Per­son­ally, it’s an op­por­tu­nity to learn more about that part of the world and see how it con­trasts with this part of the world. Some themes will be the same, like mi­gra­tion, but there’s a lot of dif­fer­ence in mi­gra­tion. We also have over­laps in the species – Amer­i­can mink, grey squir­rels, star­lings, house spar­rows. Look­ing at the con­trasts in their be­hav­iours will be in­ter­est­ing. If a squir­rel runs across my gar­den I don’t look twice! But out there, in its nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, it will be in­ter­est­ing to see what grey squir­rels do.

Do you find big­ger mam­mals, like bears and moose, ex­cit­ing, too? Oh, yes. In the UK, we have this cosy ex­is­tence where the largest thing we bump into at night is a fox or a badger! But they have bears, bob­cats and moose. Moose are huge! I’m par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in an­i­mals like rac­coons and skunks be­cause they’ve over­come ad­ver­sity and are do­ing well. Skunks have a rep­u­ta­tion, but they’re fas­ci­nat­ing.

Where are you broad­cast­ing the live shows from?

There are two hubs. Michaela and I are go­ing to be at a pic­turesque log cabin on Squam Lake. Ba­si­cally we’ll be where On Golden Pond was filmed, which doesn’t make me Henry Fonda! I hope

Michaela’s watched the film

so we can do lots of ref­er­ences. Gil­lian’s go­ing to be at the Squam Lakes Nat­u­ral Sci­ence Cen­ter. We’re fol­low­ing the same prac­tice as all our Watches and will put out live cam­eras. We’ve al­ready got some re­ally good stuff.

You are join­ing Michaela on a road trip through the new Hamp­shire coun­try­side to find the best au­tumn colours. Do you travel well to­gether?

We’ve been trav­el­ling to­gether for a long time and are quite good at it, I think. We en­joy each other’s com­pany and shar­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, but are also both good at do­ing our own thing. To be able to see the spec­ta­cle of Fall first-hand is go­ing to be pretty spe­cial.

Have you learned any in­ter­est­ing facts in pre­par­ing for the show?

I learned re­cently that moose, like ot­ters, beavers and seals, have mus­cles in their nos­trils. This means they can close them when they’re feed­ing on plants that are un­der­wa­ter. As well as hav­ing a nose that can close, they also have the ca­pac­ity to bite un­der­wa­ter with­out drown­ing. I’d no idea! Year after year tim­ber rat­tlesnakes go back to the same dens in the Au­tumn, emerg­ing again in the Spring. They will go back to the same hole in the rock for 20 years!

Fi­nally, on a dif­fer­ent note, you have just been short­listed for the Favourite Pre­sen­ter gong in our an­nual TV Times awards [for more in­for­ma­tion, visit what­sontv.co.uk/tvtawards]… It’s very kind and not re­ally de­served. I’ve never tried to per­fect the art of pre­sent­ing; per­haps

I should have done! I just try and es­pouse my pas­sion for wildlife.

I’m very flat­tered.

AU­TUM­N­WATCH

NEW ENG­LAND is PRE­VIEWED on PAGES 50-51

To see the spec­ta­cle of Fall first-hand is go­ing to be pretty spe­cial…Chris Pack­ham

Mam­mal mis­sion: Will Gil­lian spot a rac­coon at night? State­side spec­ta­cle: the colours of New eng­land in au­tumn Keep­ing watch: Michaela will be look­ing for moose On the wish list: Gil­lian hopes to see a rat­tlesnake an amaz­ing life: a red eft newt

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