A simple and simply wonderful television show that packs in charming stories of new life, harrowing and unexpected tragedies, a refreshing tranquillity and sedateness and provocative bestial sexual innuendo from Bill Oddie.
What was good about it?
• A wonderful array of presenters. Bill Oddie is the impulsive but paternal host, aided by the calmer, more lucid Kate Humble, while Simon King adds his encyclopaedic knowledge of wildlife to proceedings.
• While all the cameras are fixed in place, nests built and stories loosely plotted in advance, everything is real.
• The joy of observing the hunting wild cat in the Highlands, which is made all the more addictive by the infectious excitement of Simon King.
• King also made ospreys seem like the most thrilling birds in the entire world, as we all watched the chicks being fed by their attentive parents.
• We missed if the osprey chicks actually fledged because another element of Springwatch is that you don’t have to watch every single episode. Sure, you might miss out on ospreys fledging but to replace that you’ll have ducks attacking Bill, ducklings venturing cross country to a distant lake, and the startling moment when a bird was flapping its wings on the edge of the nest about to fly off and join its siblings when, from out of nowhere, a weasel clamped its jaws about its little feathered hide.
What was bad about it?
• Some of the films used as an interlude between the stories we’ve become gripped by can, by comparison, be a little dull – they’re rather like when Lost is building to a crescendo on the island, and suddenly there’s a cut away to a flash back/forward of Jack drinking himself into a stupor of self-pity to show what great ‘depth’ he has.
• After the relentless carnage of last year’s Springwatch, during which baby owls mostly fed on their weaker siblings, there is an undercurrent of bloodlust that is often used to hook viewers into staying with the show just before the action switches to Scotland for footage of a bird sitting on unhatched eggs.
• Admirably, from what we saw this had been minimised from the sadistic joy of last year but a dead great tit’s (we think) leg sticking out erect and lifeless was an unpleasant reminder of the brutality of nature, while another nest was emptied by a male bird who wanted to kill his new mate’s brood – that he hadn’t sired – so she would be fertile for him.