Bill Oddie quits Pensthorpe Springwatch

PUBLISHED: 16:24 02 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:37 07 July 2010

Wildlife enthusiast Bill Oddie has flown the Springwatch nest after announcing he will not present the show when it returns to its Norfolk base in May.

WILDLIFE enthusiast Bill Oddie has flown the Springwatch nest after announcing he will not present the show when it returns to its Norfolk base in May.

The popular TV twitcher is quitting the BBC Two series after four years to "take a breather" and concentrate on other projects.

The programme attracted more than four million viewers last year when it was broadcast from the Pensthorpe Nature Reserve near Fakenham.

It is set to return to Pensthorpe from May 25 this year, but viewers will have to wait to find out who will join the regular line-up alongside Kate Humble and Simon King on one of the BBC's most popular wildlife shows.

Mr Oddie, 67, said: "I'm really going to miss working with Kate, Simon 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."

Pensthorpe's communications officer Mark Noble said: "We were sorry to hear that Bill Oddie is leaving the programme, however all of us here are delighted that Springwatch remain committed to basing the series at Pensthorpe, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming them all back here in May.

"In the meantime will we are continuing to work on some really exciting developments that are well under way, including a new Pensthorpe Springwatch garden and Red Squirrel enclosures."

Possible candidates who could replace Mr Oddie include the show's roving reporter Simon King, wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan, Countryfile's Ben Fogle and ITV chat-show host Alan Titchmarsh.

The new series will begin with a one-hour special to celebrate the ornithologist's most memorable moments from the series.

BBC Two controller Janice Hadlow said: "As Bill takes a break we're going to use this opportunity to celebrate all that's great about Springwatch and viewers will be able to enjoy Bill in some new roles over the coming months."

Springwatch was aired four nights a week last year to show the lives of birds as they make their nests and rear young towards the end of spring.

On the programme's website blog, Mr Oddie wrote: "Pensthorpe has provided a variety of nests that far exceeds any previous Springwatches down in Devon, splendid though they were."

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