BBC cancels wildlife programme Autumnwatch after 17 years

Broadcaster said that it will focus resources on sister programmes ‘Springwatch’ and ‘Winterwatch’

Ellie Muir
Thursday 02 February 2023 17:08 GMT
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Tom Hanks voices support for Springwatch on The One Show

The BBC has announced that Autumnwatch has been cancelled amid “challenging times financially”.

The news comes only a week after presenter Chris Packham announced he was taking a short break from TV work.

“These are challenging times financially,” a statement from the broadcaster reads. “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.

Hosted by the likes of Michaela Strachan, Gillian Burke and Packham, Autumnwatch arrived on the BBC in 2005. It’s part of the seasonal wildlife programming aired by the broadcaster, which encompasses Winterwatch and Springwatch.

Last week, Springwatch presenter Packham announced that he is taking a career hiatus.

Packham, who is an eco-activist that also has commitments to various charities, said he is in need of “some brain space” after working constantly for 40 years.

The 61-year-old said in an interview: “I’m not having a midlife crisis – I’m too old for that. I just need some brain space, get off the treadmill, take stock.

Chris Packham on ‘Winterwatch’
Chris Packham on ‘Winterwatch’ (BBC)

“To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of my burnout have been much exaggerated. But I do badly need some time just for me.”

He told The Telegraph that saying no to charity work is “the hard part for me” as he “spends more time campaigning than doing TV”.

Packham continued: “I have lots of good people asking me to support great ideas and I find it very hard to say no. But for these next three months, I have done.”

The host said that his life “has become a cascade of doing stuff orchestrated by others”.

Packham said that a recent move was particularly “stressful” for him as he has Asperger’s syndrome.

“That security of having somewhere you control, providing refuge and respite, is destroyed or thrown into chaos,” said the TV star, who is an ambassador for the National Autistic Society.

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