There’s confusion this morning over the future of the popular presenter Martin Hughes-Games on the BBC’s hit series Springwatch.
On Saturday, Hughes-Games claimed he’d been axed from the show, announcing to his 40,000 Twitter followers: “The BBC commissioner Tom McDonald has decided my services no longer required on Springwatch etc. Sad, but it’s been brilliant. Thank you.”
The bbc commissioner Tom McDonald has decided my services no longer required on springwatch etc. Sad but it's been brilliant- thank you!!— Martin Hughes-Games (@MartinHGames) September 17, 2016
There followed an outpouring of sympathy, disbelief and anger from his Twitter followers.
But today the BBC said he hadn’t been dropped from Springwatch and insisted talks were continuing over what a spokesperson described as his “evolving” role.
“It is simply not true that Martin’s services are no longer required on the ‘Watches’. As well as being contracted for Autumnwatch we have begun conversations with Martin about an evolution of his role for Winterwatch and beyond. As far as the BBC is concerned Martin continues to be a valued member of the ‘Watches’ team.”
Hughes-Games is due to attend a press conference with co-presenter Chris Packham at the BBC’s London headquarters on Tuesday to announce details of October’s Autumnwatch programme. But given this dispute with the BBC that appearance must be in some doubt.
Hughes-Games, who’s 60, joined the BBC in 1978. He has been a presenter on the wildlife magazine show – and its autumn and winter spinoffs – since 2009, the same year that Packham joined. Prior to that he was a producer on the show.
His floppy hair and quirky sense of humour have made him a popular member of the team, alongside Packham and Michaela Strachan. His Twitter followers responded with anger to his claim he’d been axed.
“This is worst than Mel and Sue,” tweeted one, while another responded: “Dreadful decision. Absolutely gutted.” Others have backed the start of an online campaign to ensure he continues in the role.
Hughes-Games made headlines earlier this year when he suggested that wildlife TV documentaries of the type the BBC specialises in were not spreading the conservation message.
“I become increasingly concerned that – not Springwatch so much – but the more spectacular blue chip series that suggest there is this wonderful utopian world of wildlife out there that has no human interference at all. I fear those beautiful seductive programmes are not balanced by a clearer idea of what is going on and the loss of habitat.
“It’s almost like a drug. We love it and we come back and we lose ourselves in the beauty of these places, not realising that the habitats they are being filmed in are getting tinier and tinier. We don’t reflect that.”
Hughes-Games was unavailable for further comment this morning.