Terry Nutkins dies of leukaemia at 66: tributes pour in

Sep 7, 2012

TV naturalist was loved by millions of children for stints on The Really Wild Show and Animal Magic

Terry Nutkins with parrot

TRIBUTES have been pouring in for TV naturalist Terry Nutkins, who has died at the age of 66 while being treated for leukaemia.

Famous for the two wavy tufts of hair that framed his mostly bald head, the much-loved TV presenter will be remembered by forty- and thirty-somethings for his stints on the children’s shows Animal Magic and The Really Wild Show, which also launched the career of Chris Packham.

Nutkins, who was born in London in 1946, became a naturalist despite being attacked by otter named Edal at the age of 15, and losing the tips of two fingers. At the time, he was helping Ring of Bright Water author Gavin Maxwell care for otters on the west coast of Scotland.

Remembering the incident years later, he said: "I just remember Edal going beserk and latching onto a finger. All I could think to do was get her to the door, throw her outside and slam the door shut quickly.

"Unfortunately, by the time I reached the door she had chewed right through the finger, and as I launched her she twisted in the air and managed to nip most of another finger off the other hand."

Nutkins was mentored by two great naturalists in his career. First, Maxwell became his legal guardian so that the young Nutkins could stay at his house in Scotland and help with his otters.

Then, later in his career, Nutkins joined Johnny Morris as a presenter on the long-running children’s show Animal Magic, following in the footsteps of such wildlife luminaries as Gerald Durrell. Morris left a large portion of his estate to Nutkins in his will when he died in 1999.

More recently, Nutkins appeared on the BBC's Winterwatch to report on otters. He had been living in Glenelg near the Isle of Skye. Nutkins is survived by his wife and eight children.

The Countryside Alliance paid tribute to Nutkins on Twitter, saying: "He taught an entire generation to love the natural world and animals - education is so important."

Phillip Schofield, who used to present Children's BBC while Nutkins was on The Really Wild Show, called him "a delightful man and passionate naturalist" while Ricky Gervais said he was a "thoroughly nice chap".

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