BBC cancels Autumnwatch
Autumnwatch is axed in BBC cost-cutting drive: Flagship wildlife show is cancelled so more money can be invested into its sister programmes – just a week after host Chris Packham announced TV break due to ‘burn-out’
- BBC will invest more money into sister shows Springwatch and Winterwatch
- Comes after host Chris Packham said he is cancelling TV work for three months
The BBC has cancelled seasonal wildlife programme Autumnwatch amid ‘challenging times financially’ – just days after Chris Packham said he is taking a break from TV work.
In a statement released this afternoon, the broadcaster said it will instead be investing more money into its sister programmes Springwatch and Winterwatch.
Springwatch will return in May for three weeks, while Winterwatch will be reduced to a single week when it airs again next year.
A BBC spokesperson said: ‘These are challenging times financially and we need to make difficult decisions and focus our resources on content that has the highest impact.
‘Sadly, this means that Autumnwatch will not be continuing. Instead, we are investing more money into Springwatch and Winterwatch, as they are most popular with audiences.
Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Gillian Burke pictured together on the set of the BBC’s Autumnwatch
The Watch programmes are broadcast live from locations around the country and rely on dozens of crew and hidden cameras operated remotely. Pictured: A native, wild European hedgehog curled into a ball, preparing for hibernation
‘We are incredibly proud of the Watches and would like to thank the presenters and production team who will continue on Springwatch when it returns in May for three weeks, and Winterwatch when it returns next year for one week, reduced from two weeks.’
It comes just days after host Chris Packham announced he was cancelling all of his television work for the next three months after feeling completely ‘burnt out’.
READ MORE: Chris Packham cancels all TV work after feeling ‘burnt out’ as he announces surprising new career change
The 61-year-old wildlife presenter said he was taking a break from cameras for the first time in nearly four decades because he feels like he has been constantly running on a treadmill.
He is now embarking on a surprising career change, using the start of the year to create abstract sculptures of animals.
The presenter said: ‘I’ve never taken three months off work. Never. I can barely sleep I am so excited. I might have to ban [partner] Charlotte from the studios.’
Of his new art project, Chris added: ‘I don’t want any interference or disruption, I want to get on with it. It will be good to clear my head and focus on something completely different.’
The Watch programmes are broadcast live from locations around the country and rely on dozens of crew and hidden cameras operated remotely.
The series began in 2005, with the success of Springwatch prompting the BBC to commission a one-off special of Autumnwatch, which became a full series in 2006.
Winterwatch, meanwhile, began in 2012.
The BBC has delivered more than £1 billion of savings in the five years to 2021/22.
It needs to save a further £285 million in response to the announcement in January 2022 that the licence fee will be frozen for the next two years.
It comes just days after host Chris Packham announced he was cancelling all of his television work for the next three months after feeling completely ‘burnt out’
It comes after rural audiences slammed the BBC’s countryside programming for failing to ‘represent rural issues’ in August last year.
In a poll – made up mostly of the over 65s – Countryside Alliance members said Countryfile, Springwatch and Autumnwatch and The Archers failed to adequately represent their way of life.
The shows by Packham – who is against fox hunting, badger culling and countryside sports – were judged the worst, with some 90 per cent of respondents agreeing Springwatch and Autumnwatch were not a realistic representation of country life.
A total of 89 per cent felt Countryfile did not focus on the type of issues that mattered to a rural audience while Radio 4’s The Archers – dubbed a ‘contemporary drama in a rural setting’ – also came under heavy fire.
This is a breaking news story. More to follow.
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