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Petition to save Autumnwatch handed to BBC after decision to axe show

Petition to save Autumnwatch that has attracted 164,000 signatures is delivered to BBC’s Broadcasting House after it was announced the show is being axed from this year

  • The nature series charts the fortunes of British wildlife and airs on BBC2

A petition to save TV nature series Autumnwatch with 164,000 signatures has been delivered to the London headquarters of the BBC.

Marion Veal, 61, from Bromley, started the petition following the broadcaster’s announcement that the show would not take place in 2023 and beyond.

The nature series, which features Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan among its presenters, charts the fortunes of British wildlife during the season and airs on BBC Two.

As the petition was delivered to Broadcasting House, Ms Veal revealed she is meeting the broadcaster’s director-general Tim Davie in May to discuss Autumnwatch and said ‘we want to know why it was cancelled’.

Ms Veal, an author, added: ‘It is a family-friendly programme. It educates people about the British wildlife at a time of year when a lot of people begin to suffer because it is becoming dark and gloomy.’

Autumnwatch 2022 – Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan, Gillian Burke

‘It gives us hope that there are things going on, it is very good for people’s mental health.

‘British wildlife is being so tragically depleted so a programme that encourages ordinary people to get out and look at things in their gardens is very important.’

She said the growth of the petition showed ‘the British public certainly care about wildlife and that we would like our voices to be heard’.

This is the first time Ms Veal has protested against an issue publicly and said wildlife means a ‘huge amount’ to her.

She added: ‘During lockdown it saved me. It was a lifesaver and it saved my mental health and it did the same for a lot of people.’

‘I have met a huge number of people through our love of wildlife.

‘I was particularly angry and started the petition because I felt like we weren’t getting a voice.’

Ms Veal wrote a book about an injured fox which she began to care for during lockdown.

Marion Veal, 61, from Bromley, started the petition, which now has almost 164,000 signatures

A petition to save ‘important’ TV nature series Autumnwatch has been delivered to Broadcasting House, the London headquarters of the BBC (stock image)

She said: ‘My husband had recently died in November and then we locked down in March, and the fox appeared and I looked after it.

‘I treated it, and posted about it online and met people because of it, many of whom have signed the petition because of it.’

The BBC said in a February statement the show would not take place in 2023 and beyond as it seeks to ‘focus’ its resources on content that has ‘the highest impact’.

It will instead direct more money into sister programmes Springwatch and Winterwatch.

The BBC must find £400 million in annual savings by 2027/28, as outlined in the corporation’s latest annual plan, which was published in March.

A spokesperson from the BBC said: ‘These are challenging times financially and we need to make difficult decisions and focus our resources on content that has the highest impact.

‘Sadly, this means that Autumnwatch will not be continuing. Instead, we are investing more money into Springwatch and Winterwatch, which will continue, as they are most popular with audiences. 

‘We remain committed to live natural history programming and recognise the importance audiences place on this, its value to society and the enjoyment it brings people in their lives.

‘We are incredibly proud of the Watches and would like to thank the presenters and production team who will continue on Springwatch when it returns in May for three weeks, and Winterwatch when it returns next year for one week, reduced from two weeks.’

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