This Autumn, the Open University joins BBC1, BBC2 and BBC4 to launch an epic journey across the length and breadth of our country to explore the huge diversity of The Nature Of Britain.
Co-produced by The Open University, The Nature of Britain follows on from The British Isles: A Natural History. Each programme lasts fifty minutes with six additional ten-minute regional short films, which highlight local nature footage from the West country and local conservation activities.
Presented by Alan Titchmarsh, The Nature of Britain concentrates on the unique ecology of different landscapes and eco-systems throughout the UK and the diverse behaviour of the animals and plants that live in them.
During his journey, Alan shares his enthusiasm for the British wildlife he loves, encouraging viewers to step outside and explore the wealth of natural history on their doorstep.
The eight programmes in the series feature eight disparate but key landscapes – Islands; Farmland; Urban; Freshwater; Coastal; Woodland; Wilderness and Secret Britain.
The series paints a beautiful contemporary portrait of Britain’s wildlife and provides the definitive guide to The Nature of Britain.
There is also an eight-part companion programme, The Nature of Britain: A User’s Guide, hosted by Chris Packham which broadcasts on BBC FOUR immediately after the main programme on BBC ONE. As well as featuring the best of the regional films from all over the UK, A User’s Guide will showcase rarely seen British wildlife and will be a practical guide to finding stunning nature on viewers’ doorsteps and helping to keep Britain green and beautiful.
Dr David Robinson, The Open University’s head academic on The Nature of Britain said: “Science can be seen as something remote or special that ordinary people can’t do without specialist equipment or training. The Open University is committed to encouraging a “can-do” attitude to science and learning and The Nature of Britain is very much about what you can see and do for yourself.
“Wildlife around the world is often marvellous on TV but our local natural world is fascinating too. Every time I go looking, I see something – a plant, an animal, a pattern of behaviour – which I have not seen before. You don’t have to be a zoologist to experience this and the series shows some of the special things right on our doorsteps. The regional films will be great for informing viewers what they can do locally to experience the natural world themselves and how they can make a difference.
“It has been an enormous privilege to work with the producers of the series and I have learned a lot, as well as being lavishly entertained”.
With so much stunning footage of Britain’s scenery and wildlife, picking individual highlights is difficult: a honey buzzard extracting honey from a nest of bees, hares boxing in a meadow, minke whales feeding and the aerial views of Britain’s wilderness are just some of the scenes that will have viewers glued to their televisions and computer monitors. The programmes are packed with animals that many viewers will never have seen on TV in so much detail.
The Open University has produced a free calendar to accompany the series which viewers can obtain by calling 0870 942 1343 or by visiting www.Open2.net
On Open2.net, as well as having comprehensive and exclusive material about the network series and regional programmes, there will also be a link to the Breathing Places campaign, which aims to create 1000 new spaces for nature and to improve thousands more. Open2.net will show how an existing space can be improved for its wild inhabitants featuring the process, permissions, scientific background and progress over two years through pictures, video, sound recordings, blogs, interviews and interactive maps.
Swindon will feature in programme Three – Urban Britain
9pm, Wednesday 24 October on BBC 1 and 6pm on Sunday 28 October on, BBC2
It might not be top of your list for wildlife destinations in the West – but presenter Mike Dilger was in for a treat when he got on his bike for an urban safari across Swindon.
First stop was right in the centre of town alongside the canal at Rushy Platt. Here he found coots, moorhens and little grebes – building nests just feet away from passers-by. Roy Cartwright, chairman of the Swindon branch of the Wilts and Berks Canal Trust showed Mike how their newly-acquired weed-cutter boat is helping to keep the weed from blocking the flow of water. "The more we cut, the more we keep the water flowing and that makes things better for all the wildlife. We get beautiful dragonflies and wonderful birds – it's like bringing a little bit of the country right into the town," said Roy.
Mike also visited Swindon sewerage works, where he found Matt Prior a volunteer with the British Trust for Ornithology. The older part of the sewerage works is a real wildlife haven with freshwater pools and lakes, and a wide variety of bushes providing a great source of water, food and shelter for birds. Matt, a licenced bird ringer, is training one of the BTO's youngest volunteers, 11-year-old Jack Nurse from Swindon, to become a ringer too.