How I became an unlikely Springwatch fan

BBC2's Springwatch isn't boring. It’s bright, beautiful and hopeful, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

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As a teen growing up in deepest, darkest Hampshire I had very little interest in the green, lush and wild world around me.

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I’m the odd one out in my family. Each and every phone call with my mum is guaranteed to be interrupted with a yell of “blue tit!” or “wagtail!” as she simultaneously bird spots and listens to me twitter on. There’s more seed than cereal in my parent’s kitchen cupboards and a bank holiday weekend isn’t complete without everyone getting grass stains on their knees and dirt under their fingernails. Everyone apart from me.

I somehow grew up a country girl who hated mud, bugs and getting chilly. I’m sure my parents are incredibly disappointed in me, but I just always felt much more at ease with my soles firmly on pavement.

That’s why I knew Springwatch, with its trio of wholesome plaid shirt-wearing presenters, wasn’t for me. Aside from the fact that I’m not, presumably, its target audience: a twentysomething living in a gardenless flat in London, with normal twentysomething interests and other twentysomethings to hang out with in my free time.

Springwatch is boring, I said. Bird song? Butterflies? Badgers? Bluebells? Boring.

But it’s not. I began watching the BBC2 show under duress last May, during a trip to my parents’ – and I begrudgingly fell under Springwatch’s spell.

It’s bright, hopeful and beautiful. The live shows, which see Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games nestle into nature and plant hidden cameras to spy on bird nests and badger sets, are simple and charming.

Living in a city, with a deep underground system, a fume-filled atmosphere and an awful lot of concrete, it’s easy to forget – as silly as it sounds – that the world around us is living and breathing, growing and changing. The odd ant in my ground-floor kitchen and those resilient weeds that pop their heads out from between pavement cracks are as close as I usually get to England’s green and pleasant land.

And it’s a bad state to find ourselves in (I say ourselves, because it can’t just be me who feels utterly disconnected from the natural world that surrounds us). Proximity to green space, a connection with nature, time spent outside – they’ve all been scientifically connected to emotional health and wellbeing.

Green is good for you. And Springwatch is nothing if not green.

Plus, for me at least, it’s even better than the real thing. I can soak up some of the benefits, without actually having to get grass stains on my knees. 

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Springwatch 2015 starts tonight at 8:00pm on BBC2


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