Q&A

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Reviews Broadcast - CHRIS HOWARD is series pro­ducer of Spring­watch. Chris Howard

How long does it take to get

Spring­watch HQ up and run­ning?

Not long! We start plan­ning a few months be­fore broad­cast. The re­mote-cam­era team ar­rives two weeks be­fore, and the pro­duc­tion team a week be­fore. We start with 15 peo­ple and fin­ish with more than 100.

What’s the at­mos­phere like with one day to go?

It’s nerve-rack­ing. There’s al­ways a worry that there are three weeks ahead to fill with con­tent. It of­ten feels like there aren’t enough cam­eras up and run­ning, that the fi­nal tweaks aren’t done, or that we don’t have enough sto­ries. We just have to hold our nerve and have faith in the team.

Do you re­hearse?

We used to do full re­hearsals, but we stopped be­cause it felt like we were over­do­ing it. Be­sides, the sto­ries of­ten change at the last minute.

When do you in­stall the nest­cams?

It varies. Barn owl cams, for in­stance, have to be in­stalled out of nest­ing sea­son, so we do those months in ad­vance, in win­ter. Smaller nest­boxes go up in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary and we wait to see who moves in. And to lo­cate wild nests a team goes out in early May on bird­song rec­ces. It’s a sur­pris­ingly suc­cess­ful strat­egy.

What’s been your favourite mo­ment of all the Watches?

I’ll never for­get Spine­less Si the sticklebac­k hatch­ing his fry on the last day of Spring­watch 2015. That the na­tion could fall in love with a two-inch fish is just bril­liant.

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