Goodie turns baddie as viewers protest at Oddie's 'X-rated' wildlife commentary

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The Independent Online

For the millions of viewers who tune in every week, the BBC's Springwatch, fronted by the former Goodie Bill Oddie, has long been a beacon of prime-time decency. So it came as a shock to many when, earlier this week, the presenter used rather direct language when narrating sexual congress in the natural world.

Describing a mating scene between two sparrows, Oddie, 66, said: "The female is asking for it – and getting it, basically. She is doing that wing-fluttering think like that as if to say: 'I am a baby, feed me'... [and] is getting quite the opposite." He concluded the piece by saying: "That's a wing-trembler she's just had there."

An item on beetles reignited the sensitivities of some viewers. Describing the sexual congress taking place in front of viewers' eyes, Oddie abandoned euphemism altogether. "He crash-lands on top of a likely looking lady – there's a bit of luck! One thing's for sure: this boy is horny!"

Then, as the male fought off a competing suitor for the right to mate, Oddie went into character, adopting the part of the female and saying in a high-pitched voice: "Come on big boy, come and get it. Oh, be gentle with me!"

Viewers reacted with outrage. One man complained: "I am sick to death of the constant innuendo being offered by Bill every time a scene of mating appears.

"It isn't funny or witty... just downright embarrassing when you are watching it with children. For example, being asked by my 10-year-old daughter: 'What does horny mean, daddy?' when watching mating beetles isn't right.

"I would never try to stop her understanding how animals reproduce, but commentary such as: 'She got more than she bargained for', and: 'He has his wicked way' isn't called for, and I am considering stopping her watching it."

Another viewer said: "This is schoolboy sniggering, behind-the-bike-sheds type humour and it's out of place in a programme that is otherwise marvellously educational for all age groups."

Oddie, who came to fame in the 1970s as one of comedy trio The Goodies, has been a keen birdwatcher since his childhood.

The BBC commented that many viewers endorsed the "light-hearted view" of Springwatch and Oddie. "The programme is always looking at new, creative and entertaining ways of bringing nature to a wider audience. Storytelling is one of many ways of doing this. No offence was intended."

Birds do it, bees do it... Oddie's mating commentary

On sparrows:

'The female is asking for it – and getting it. That's a wing-trembler she's just had'

On beetles:

'He lands on a likely looking female. One thing's for sure – this boy's horny!'

Click here to watch the episode of Springwatch which prompted the complaints