Wednesday, 8 April 2009


The birds are singing - even earlier than Charlie starts his early-morning twittering (and his dad starts Tweeting - see the sidebar!); the trees are coming into leaf, and swallows have been glimpsed above the chimney-pots (apparently). Any moment now the call of the greater-spotted Oddie will be heard in the land once more as the title-sequence for the BBC's Springwatch gets under way again. But wait! What's this? No Bill Oddie this year? Ssshhh! Don't tell Sally - she'll be devastated.
Ever since we visited a local garden centre years ago and Sally saw a man with a Tawny Owl perched on his arm, she has been obsessed - first with owls, and then with all birds (but especially owls). It's something I can understand; they're special, slightly magical creatures. (There's a wonderful owl poem here.) For months she'd talk in hushed tones about the man with "a ow-ul" on his arm (there was an owl sanctuary at the garden centre, in case you're wondering). And a burgeoning interest in wildlife was nurtured by successive 'Springwatch' programmes with nest-cams, infra-red night cameras, badgers, seals, deer and - of course - owls. We learnt a lot during the Springwatch years; it was nature red in tooth and claw, for sure. There was barn owl cannibalism, for example, as well as stags rutting, boars fighting, badgers er... hiding and foxes foraging. Oh, and birds nesting. And Bill Oddie innuendo-ing.
The banter between Bill and Kate (Kate's tits - I ask you!) was lost on Sally, thankfully. All she saw was someone with endless enthusiasm for her new passion - wildlife. And the erudition, too. Here was a born communicator, as well as someone who could wear his learning lightly. But this year's series will be presented not by Kate and Bill, but Kate and... Chris. Bill Oddie is, apparently, suffering from depression. I'm sure Chris Packham will be a worthy stand-in. (At least Sally's too old to have to endure PC Plum on the CBeebies version of the programme.) But for her sake (as well as Bill's) let's all wish Mr Springwatch a swift recovery.


  1. That's a great interest for her to have...time to buy a copy of 'My Family and Other Animals'...either the book, or the charming BBC series which can now be bought on DVD.

  2. What a lovely picture.

    Did you see the "Who Do You Think You Are?" programme that Bill Oddie did a few years ago? It was rather sad and there is a family history of mental problems so I also hope dear old Bill recovers from his depression soon.

  3. It always saddens me when people with so much talent, such as Bill Oddie, suffer from depression, which can be so debilitating. Many comedians follow the same path.

    A contrast to the joy and hope and anticipation that nature brings in Spring!

  4. I remember that series, NB. And I've still got the book somewhere...

    I did, Liz, and it made fascinating viewing. Bill appears to have succumbed late in life to an illness he only recently discovered plagued his mother. Great shame.

    What a contrast, Catharine - and what a contrast to Bill's usual persona, too! You're right about comedians - the tragic clown is almost a cliche, but so many men and women of talent seem to have suffered in this way.

  5. I loved The Goodies but Mr Oddie on his own is somewhat of an acquired taste. Okay in small doses.

  6. Beautiful Bill Oddie has suffered various forms of depression for most of his adult life... it's just that the rest of us never see that thru his nice happy silly persona! Hope he pulls thru this latest black patch.

    That's a gorgeous picture too! Good on you for encouraging her passions.

  7. Have always been in awe of Bill Oddie since the Goodies. He always seemed a strange bloke tho'. Sorry to hear about that.

    I'm glad Sally watches that sort of thing and not bloody Hannah Montana like my Daughter. I have to struggle to get her to watch Blue Peter! Although she;ll watch Newsround occasionally. xxxx

  8. Beavers are being reintroduced into the British countryside. I wonder what they'll get up to.

  9. That's a great shame. I like Bill Oddie. Certainly he's a curmudgeon - but so am I - and he was always ineffably honest. Hope he comes back soon.

  10. Poor Bill. Depression is so debilatating for all those involved. I hope he comes through it.

  11. Sad to learn that about Bill Oddie, BBC Springwatch will not be the same without him. Certainly not with the speech impaired numpty who was rubbish on The Really Wild Show. Mainly because he got in the way of the much more eloquently speech impaired Strachan.

    Plus I have a problem with PC Plum, the incompetent police officer. Not a great role model is he.

  12. Oh poor Bill Oddie. Depression is such a total bugger.
    All my children have called owls... ow'els too. so sweet!

  13. Well I have to say that's a shame about Bill Oddie. I don't particuarly like the man, he's always so rude to Kate, but I do like Springwatch and he makes it.

    CJ xx

  14. won't be the same without him :-(

  15. I have heard Bill Oddie interviewed in the past, discussing his past bouts of serious depression. I do hope he manages to surface soon from this one - it is such a horrible, debilitating illness.

    Springwatch won't be quite the same without him.


  16. It is such a pity to be suffering from depression at this time of the year when there is so much new life and hope around.

  17. I'd also heard that Bill Oddie has had this problem for quite a long time and is famous at the BBC for taking it out on his colleagues. Great shame though, I hope he pulls through. I love owls too, but wouldn't want to get into a fight with one.

  18. Well, Sally's certainly acquired it Troy ('though I know what you mean...)

    I hadn't realised he'd suffered for so long, Mal. It's a terrible affliction, as so many have said.

    Well, Jenny, I've got a confession. She would love to watch Hannah Montana as well but I'm too mean to pay for Sky or whatever channel it's on. A source of much disgruntlement, I can tell you!

    Really Scarlett? Did they ever go away?!

    So do I, Steve. Although cantankerous, I still like him. For a start, he's real, unlike so many celluloid presenters with their perma-tanned faces and dentally-enhanced grins...

    You're right, MT. Debilitating is the word. Fingers crossed for him...

    It could've been worse, SPD. They might have booked Plum instead of Packham for the adult show!

    What is it about that word, eh LBWM? Actually, two-syllables sound better.

    He does indeed, CJ. It's been 'his' show from the outset. And Kate can hold her own against him!

    We shall see, Sub. Although, like you, I doubt it.

    I saw him talking about his mother on the genealogy programme a while ago, but didn't appreciate how much he'd suffered, Kitty.

    Maybe the Spring will lift his spirits, CW?

    No, Gadj, neither would I. Did you know the great wildlife photographer Eric Hosking lost an eye to an owl?

  19. I read that there was no Bill Oddie this year, but not the reason why. Hope he makes a swift (no pun intended) recovery.

    My daughter has been entranced by birds of prey since seeing a display at Alnwick Castle two years ago. Last summer she got to be the volunteer holding the Harris Hawk at Pembroke Castle, she was made up!

  20. lol I had to laugh about Bill and Kate, you are very funny.....get well soon to Mr. Oddie.
    We have a lovely bird of prey place near here's a pic for Sally:

  21. I bet she was, WM! And what wonderful locations, too - Alnwick and Pembroke Castles!

    Thanks, Magnumlady. That really is a wonderful picture - such detail!

  22. Well now...I LOVE owls..ever since I was a child. I have been completely fascinated with them. I love the photo! I wish I could have an owl perched upon my arm too!

  23. I do like Springwatch, very educational. I'm not a major fan of Bill Oddie but it's always sad to hear of someone suffering from depression and needing treatment. I've been there myself, so I wish him the very best.

  24. It's a good pic, isn't it Bee? Getting that close to her favourite creature was a real thrill.

    I've been surprised by ow many people have said that, Rosie - thought it's obvious Bill can be a bit awkward. Perhaps his illness is the reason?

  25. Great pic - I'm sure she'll still love Springwatch. Get her out to one of the wetlands centres for some birdwatching!


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