The BBC has confirmed that Bill Oddie, TV presenter and ornithologist has quit wildlife programme Springwatch. The programme goes out live every weeknight for a month, tracking the changes in the natural environment throughout spring.
Bill has presented the nightly nature show for the last four years alongside Kate Humble. It is not yet known whether anyone will take his place, however presenters tipped to replace Bill include Simon King, Countryfile host Ben Fogle, filmmaker Gordon Buchanan and former Ground Force host Alan Titchmarsh.
Bill said "I'm really going to miss working with Kate and the team but after an amazing four years of really intense work it feels like the right time to take a breather and recharge my batteries".
Although Bill has confirmed that he will not present this year's Springwatch, the door has been left open for him to return to Springwatch in subsequent years. Bill has almost certainly been ruled out of this year's instalment of the series' sister show, Autumnwatch, but the BBC are still considering whether to find a replacement to present alongside Kate Humble, or to let her and Simon King present without Bill for a year.
Neil Nightingale, head of the BBC natural history unit, said: "Bill's inimitable style, in depth expertise and unflinching dedication have helped establish Springwatch and Autumnwatch as two of the nation's favourite natural history programmes.
"Although he's stepping out of the picture for this series he remains an important member of the Springwatch family."
Springwatch started in 2005 and Autumnwatch in 2006 and both shows regularly attract audiences over 4 million for BBC2. Last year, Springwatch delivered an average audience of 3.2 million and a 14% share across the season, while Autumnwatch reached 3.2 million and a 13% share. Its appeal has been put down to the play-off between Bill's gruff, matter-of-fact persona and Kate's more chatty manner.
The new series of Springwatch which will start in May will kick off with a one-hour special showcasing Bill's favourite moments.
Copyright Speakers Corner 2016