Tuesday 19 September 2017

Gillian Burke 'horrified to be blamed for Springwatch team break-up'

Presenter Gillian Burke said she was horrified to be blamed for breaking up the Springwatch team (BBC/PA)
Presenter Gillian Burke said she was horrified to be blamed for breaking up the Springwatch team (BBC/PA)

The BBC's new wildlife presenter Gillian Burke has said she was horrified to be blamed for "breaking up" the Springwatch team.

Wildlife presenter Martin Hughes-Games said last year that he had been sidelined from the show because he is white and middle class.

It emerged later that Burke, who was born in Kenya and now lives in Cornwall, would be joining the Springwatch team.

The BBC denied diversity was the issue and Hughes-Games later returned to the strand and will appear on Winterwatch along with presenters Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Burke.

Burke told Radio Times magazine: "A friend texted me one Monday morning saying I was in the papers.

"Can you imagine the horror for me of apparently busting into the party and being blamed for breaking it up?"

She said: " In many ways Martin and I have had a very similar journey.

"We both went to Bristol University, both did biology, both went into natural history as researchers and then worked our way up as producers."

She added: "I can totally understand why people would want to know where I've come from, the perception is that I've just shown up. But I've been doing this a long time.

"My first job in natural history was in the mid-late 90s and I've worked pretty solidly in it ever since.

"I have grown up alongside all the people involved in programmes likes Planet Earth. I have my own story and my own journey and it's taken me a long time to get here."

Burke said she dreamt of working at the BBC's Natural History Unit while studying biology at Bristol University.

She added: " Walking up and down to lectures took me past and I remember gazing at it and thinking, 'Wow. That's where I would like to work.'"

Press Association

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