Chris Packham: ‘People saw a different side to me’


His daily lockdown show with stepdaughter Megan McCubbin was Chris Packham’s surprise hit, revealing much about nature – and family relations

This spring, when the country was hunkering down against coronavirus, Chris Packham posted a short clip on Twitter admiring a patch of brilliant yellow celandines on his early morning walk. People liked it, and so Packham began posting daily videos enthusing about spring unfurling around his home in the New Forest. Shortly before lockdown, he was called away for a final film commitment, but still wanted to post a daily video. He persuaded his stepdaughter, Megan McCubbin, 25, to step in. The Self-Isolating Bird Club was born, with Packham and McCubbin, who locked down together at his cottage, using two mobile phones and Skype to broadcast a live daily show online that celebrated our connection with the natural world. There seemed unquenchable thirst for their enthusiasm, their banter, and ordinary wildlife – from nesting blackbirds to badger skulls. Eight million people around the world tuned in over a month of broadcasts.

Five months on, as coronavirus tightens its grip on an increasingly downcast nation, people are again turning to the zoologist and her stepdad, who are now presenting together on BBC2’s Autumnwatch. The secret lives of other species are consoling and cheering, but so is the rapport between McCubbin and Packham. They tease each other, but also nod in harmony over their shared beliefs in the wonder of nature and the importance of activism.

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