Packham: why I wouldn't swap foxes for foxtrots and appear on Strictly Come Dancing

·5 min read
Packham, 59, is working with The National Lottery to urge the public to be greener
Packham, 59, is working with The National Lottery to urge the public to be greener

Uncoordinated Chris Packham admits he’d never swap Springwatch for Strictly to promote his environmental rallying cry, writes Will Jennings.

But the naturalist says he would consider other TV opportunities to reach a new audience and build a greater following in light of staggering new research.

Springwatch presenter Packham, 59, was alarmed after seven in ten of us admitted to not doing enough to save the planet.

The figures were revealed by The National Lottery but Packham, who succeeded Bill Oddie as the BBC’s nature supremo in 2009, says he’d stop short of swapping foxes for foxtrots to amplify his vital message.

The New Forest resident, an official spokesperson for The National Lottery’s research, said: “I think if you do those things, you’ve got to have some aptitude.

“You can’t just be a complete failure. If you asked me to go and do an interview on Chinese television, I wouldn’t accept because I can’t speak Chinese and it wouldn’t work.

“I think the enjoyable aspect of those programmes is seeing people where you’re meeting in the middle – they’ve got some ability, and they’re trying to bring it on, whether it’s MasterChef , Strictly Come Dancing or any of those sort of things.

“With absolute honesty, I cannot dance. I don’t have any natural sense of rhythm. I’m surprised that my heart beats in time. I don’t think going on there and making a complete fool of myself is going to be that entertaining for that long.

“It would depend on what it was – if it was something I could do and had some aptitude for, then I might say yes if I thought it was beneficial and I could get a message out there.

“But Strictly Come Dancing , I’d leave that to all of those other people who’d be much better contestants than me – and would look much better in glitter! I’m about retro polo shirts, not sparkly costumes.”

TV star Packham has long been a proponent of environmental change and was speaking after startling figures were revealed by The National Lottery.

Over seven in ten of us (73 per cent) admit to using more electricity during lockdown, while over a third (34 per cent) say they have had the heating on more than ever before.

But almost half (47 per cent) still reckon the world will be a greener place for future generations, with many admitting they will change their habits for the better as restrictions finally ease.

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Packham has faith in the next generation to blaze a trail for change and says young people are mobilising to make the planet a better place.

The former Really Wild Show presenter added: “I think they’re energised.

“They’re very concerned and they’re finding a voice. One of the things us old people are doing at the moment is not trusting young people enough.

“We should give them more power and listen to what they say. Of course, they make mistakes, but we should soak those mistakes up and allow them more governance over their forthcoming world.

“The overall key thing is to recognise that you can make a difference and, as an individual, can become part of a positive movement.”

The National Lottery has contributed more than £2.2billion towards green projects and initiatives across heritage, art, community and sport since 2010.

The support has given a shot in the arm to vital projects all around the country – from community groups preserving natural habitats to art installations educating young people on climate change.

TV comedian Rosie Ramsey has also joined forces with The National Lottery to raise crucial awareness around the findings, featuring in three innovative, DIY workshops with some of the most environmentally-savvy projects around the UK.

The videos – accompanied by two further educational deep-dives with other UK projects – were released each day between April 19-23 and are available to watch via lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/stories/planetary-promise and National Lottery Good Causes social channels.

Packham hailed National Lottery players for giving environmental projects a vital boost
Packham hailed National Lottery players for giving environmental projects a vital boost

Packham thinks The National Lottery’s support has been a game-changer and hailed Ramsey’s involvement for helping to penetrate a new audience.

“The empowerment The National Lottery’s environmental support has given people to make a positive difference has been astonishing,” he added.

“£2.2billion is an inconceivable figure, while the £30milion that’s raised every week for good causes is a very significant and important amount of money.

“Rosie Ramsey has been a really great choice. They could have got someone like me – but I’d be preaching to the converted.

“I’m really excited that they’ve got someone like her – she’s talking to people that I can’t reach about how to make positive changes. I’m really supportive of all of this and think it’s brilliant.”

The National Lottery is encouraging the public to make a vital contribution to the future of our planet by making a #PlanetaryPromise on social media between Monday 19th April – 23rd April. The #PlanetaryPromise is a chance for you to do your bit for the environment by making a conscious commitment to either start or stop something that could be helping or harming our planet. To watch the videos and find out more, visit https://www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/stories/planetary-promise