The Animal’s Guide To Britain Review: Chriswatch

THE ANIMAL’S GUIDE TO BRITAIN – FRESHWATER ANIMALS: Thursday 14th April, BBC2, 8pm

With a name like The Animal’s Guide To Britain, you would expect the programme to be presented by a duck. Which isn’t to say that ducks are the best presenters in the animal kingdom, the word from the woods is that rabbits are also pretty good in front of the camera, and cats too, look at the amount of YouTube videos they’re in… Alas, we don’t get an animal as presenter for this programme but we do get the next best thing in Springwatch veteran Chris Packham.

Chris knows loads about animals, and he’s happy to convey that information in tones ranging from the condescending teacher – that we get a lot on Springwatch – to the enthusiast – which is a lot of fun. “This is a brilliant place to get your head inside that of a hungry Osprey,â€? he says, leaving everyone disappointed when his encounters with the birds don’t end with him being eaten, not even when he’s at the top of a tree with an Osprey nest and confesses that he didn’t think it looked that high from the ground; you have to appreciate a wildlife expert who can’t tell a bloody big tree when he sees one. Never mind, maybe the dragonflies will get him.

As much as Chris loved the Ospreys, he really loves the dragonflies. And the Water Voles, and the brown trout, and the beavers and, even the Mink, who are busy killing off his beloved Voles; no favouritism here, he loves them all equally and leaves them to fight amongst themselves for his affection. That’s natural selection in action, right there.

But what this programme really needs – besides and episode where Chris goes in search of the panther on Dartmoor – is another presenter to give a bit of a change of pace and tone. That’s what Springwatch does so well, it gives us a bit of Chris, then a bit of Kate Humble and alternates between the two frequently enough that we can’t figure out which one we’d like to do away with first, and collapse into a state of acceptance to enjoy the programme.

Educational TV. It used to be an oxymoron, but now there’s so much of it that it’s hard to watch almost anything without the danger of learning. But as long as the learning stays this light and watchable, then we suppose it’s okay.

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