Chris Packham on The Bridge, Euro 2012 and avoiding Jamie Oliver on the telly

The host of Springwatch shares his favourite - and not so favourite - television and radio...

What programme can’t you miss?


The Bridge. It’s only the second time in my life that I’ve made a massive effort to record, sit down and watch a whole series; the first was Twin Peaks in 1990. I was gripped with insomnia in a hotel so I stayed up and watched the first episode and thought, “Blimey, this is really good’’. I’m harbouring a crush on the autistic Swedish policewoman. I can identify with her.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Football. I’ve always supported Southampton, but can get just as enthusiastic about teams that I have no particular affiliation with. What I really want is to be wholly entertained, so I expect antics on and off the field, goals, controversy, a few sending-offs and a pitch invasion by African wild dogs.

Given all that, you must be looking forward to Euro 2012 this summer?

I always have the wall planner and fill in all the scores; I’m a geek like that. What I don’t like is to judge anyone before they’ve had the chance to perform, so I’m not happy that Roy Hodgson’s been sentenced already by some of the tabloids. There’s only one thing that makes me doubt him and that’s the fact that he accepted the job, because it’s got to be the worst job on earth. No one would want that much abuse. Not even me – and I get loads.

What do you wake up to?

Today on Radio 4. It’s one of the last bastions of news, commentary and erudite discussion. I look forward to John Humphrys when I know he’s interviewing someone he hasn’t got a lot of time for because it’ll be entertaining as well as informative.

Who would be your ideal dinner party guest?

General Custer, to find out what really happened at Little Big Horn. I’d also like to hear Nelson’s account of Trafalgar, although I’m not sure he’d relish the prospect of a Chinese takeaway.

Chinese takeaway?

I don’t have guests very often, and if I do, I always make sure we eat out. I live on my own with two poodles, so my primary kitchen tool is the microwave.

You’re not a Jamie Oliver devotee?

Eurghhhhhhhhhhh! You’ve said one of those words that turns my blood to acid. I can’t be in a room when Jamie Oliver’s on television. I’m sure he’s a jolly fine bloke, but I don’t like his mockney-cockney geezer persona. I don’t buy into it.

Who was your first crush?

Raquel Welch in One Million Years BC. I was only six or seven at the time. I have a signed photo of her in my office, dressed as she was in a rabbit-skin bikini.

What show makes you reach for the hankies?

It’s cheesy, but very occasionally when someone performs out of their skin in a very unexpected fashion on a show like X Factor.

What do you shake your fist at?

I react faster than a diamondback rattlesnake to turn off the radio when I hear The Archers theme tune.

Do you ever Google yourself?

No, never. I’m not a vain person. I don’t like myself at all.

Which wildlife programmes do you tune into?

I’d rather be watching blue tits out of the kitchen window; I prefer wildlife in the flesh.

Springwatch is on BBC2, Monday to Thursday at 8.00pm


This article was first published in the Radio Times (26 May – 1 June)