TV wildlife presenter Martin Hughes-Games has revealed he’s quitting BBC2’s popular Springwatch series.
The news – announced by Hughes-Games this afternoon on Twitter – has prompted an outpouring of support and sympathy from his 50,000 followers.
Hughes-Game has presented on the programme, and its siblings Autumnwatch and Winterwatch, for 12 years. He said in his resignation tweet: “It’s good to go when the show is looking strong. Massive thank you for your support.”
The BBC has said in response: "Martin has been a vital part of the success of the Watches– both on and off screen– for the past 12 years, so we're very sad to see him go. We wish him every success in his new ventures. We're excited to be bringing Springwatch back to BBC2 in May."
It brings to an end an uncomfortable last 18 months for the presenter who appeared on the show alongside Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and new girl Gillian Burke.
In September 2016 he announced, again on Twitter, that he was being axed by the BBC in order, he felt, that diversity targets could be met – a claim denied by the corporation. As it turned out – and it might have had something to do with the huge support he received from viewers – his role was changed rather than axed. Less time in the studio, more in the field. His supporters claimed he was being marginalised for reasons of political correctness, a point he himself acknowledged in an interview with Radio Times at the time.
“Whatever I may think it’s crucially important that high profile shows like the Watches reflect diversity. Chris, Michaela and I are all white and middle class so a more diverse team must present some of the films that go out. It’s hard for me because it’s my living but the more I thought about it the more I thought ‘no that’s the right decision'. It has to be like that.”
Today’s news suggests that his role on this year’s programmes is further being scaled back. He hasn’t elaborated on his reasons for going, but a colleague said: “He hopes that other channels see past the perceived problem that he is middle-aged, middle class, white and male and recognise him on his merits.”