Thursday 22 August 2019

Martin Hughes-Games: White and middle class makes me endangered species on TV

The former Springwatch star said the show’s commissioner is ‘a bit grumpy” with him.

Martin Hughes-Games (David Parry/PA)
Martin Hughes-Games (David Parry/PA)

By Laura Harding, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Former Springwatch presenter Martin Hughes-Games has said he is an “endangered species” on television because he is “white, middle-class, old-aged”.

In September 2016, he announced on Twitter that he was being axed by the BBC, prompting anger from his fans who described it as “an outrage” and promised to send irate messages to the commissioner.

Days later, it appeared there had been a change of heart by the BBC and he confirmed he would return to the long-running show – but in 2018 he left for good, after 12 years on the presenting line-up.

Asked if he would return if he could, Hughes-Games, 63, told the Radio Times: “Oh, don’t ask me that.

“I think the commissioner’s a bit grumpy with me, because I’m white, middle-class, old-aged… Who wants me on their show?”

He joked: “I’m an endangered species. Let’s hope that conservation efforts keep me going, rather than going extinct…”

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Martin Hughes-Games (David Parry/PA)

He adds that there are “white, middle-class, old-aged presenters, who are actually quite good at their jobs”.

Hughes-Games added that he misses his former co-stars Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan “terribly”, saying: “We email and text each other all the time. In fact, I sent Chris a YouTube clip of a Second World War fighter only yesterday. And I have been to see Michaela in South Africa, where she lives.

“I’m still very much in contact with them. I miss them very, very much indeed. Michaela, Chris and I had a lovely chemistry which was the most wonderful thing to be a part of. It was just great, it really was.”

Asked if he watches the show now, he said: “Do you know what? I find it very, very difficult to watch.

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New presenter Gillian Burke (left) with Michaela Strachan and Chris Packham (Glenn Dearing/BBC)

“I do a bit, but I feel so close to them, both professionally and emotionally, that I often find myself adjusting the tappets on one of my old motorbikes or something rather than watching it, because it hurts.”

He said he he has dreams about being on the show, adding: “My abiding memory is laughing an enormous amount with Chris and Michaela.

“Working with them on the programme was one of the happiest times that I ever had in 40 years in telly. I texted Chris the other day and told him I’m dreaming about him every night. It’s odd… Very weird.”

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(Radio Times)

The full interview is in the Radio Times, out now.

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