Chris Packham has responded to the BBC’s decision to axe the popular wildlife programme Autumnwatch by airing his own free-to-view online wildlife extravaganza ‘8 Out Of 10 Bats’.
A respected expert and trusted voice in the conservation of UK wildlife, Chris is an autistic person – having what was formerly diagnosed as Asperger's Syndrome, now ASD. This means he can struggle with some social situations, has some difficulties with human relationships, and can be seen, by his own admission, ‘as a little bit weird’!
It’s by bringing nature into his everyday life that helps to improve his mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, and makes him feel more relaxed.
“By making 8 Out Of 10 Bats I can convey that thrill, that joy and the sheer beauty when you immerse yourself in nature,” said Chris.
“Nature has an astonishing way of supporting our mental health and wellbeing, no matter how we experience it.”
The National Autistic Society describes autism as a ‘lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world’ and that one in 100 of us are on the autism spectrum. Very often autism leads to mental health difficulties, something Chris has also spoken freely about.
“For me connecting with nature helps me to manage some of the challenges I face with my autism,” added Chris.
“Whether walking through the woods, looking out to sea or simply watching birds on a garden feeder, nature makes a world of difference to my body and mind.
“Life can sometimes feel a little forced, making you do things that you may not be very comfortable about doing. Spending time in nature is an antidote, it can make me feel much more relaxed and more comfortable. Maybe it’s because I’m free to roam and explore, to be involved in the pure sensory aspects of nature.”
He will be joined by Megan McCubbin, who co-presented the much-loved Self Isolating Bird Club with Packham during the lockdowns of 2020, and a significant number of young film makers, conservationists, presenters and campaigners.
“At a time when we are being constantly bombarded with so much negative news about our precious wildlife, we want to share our passion for what we love most – all that unparalleled wonder for our natural world which grips young and old alike,” said Chris.
“8 Out Of 10 Bats is about being excited by a love of life, everything which slimes, slithers or stings. But it’s also about making sure young people have a voice and an opportunity to showcase their extraordinary abilities.”
The magazine style show will be broadcast via the online platform YouTube from Dundreggan Rewilding Centre in Scotland (October 23-26) and the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey (October 31-November 2).
It promises to be passionate, fascinating and educational, featuring topical films, hilarious props, informative demonstrations, live wildlife cameras and of course Packham and McCubbin (pictured above) winging it live.
Photo Credit: Jo Charlesworth