Richard Hammond has ruined Planet Earth Live, say viewers

May 8, 2012

Nature-lovers take to BBC website to slam ambitious series for celebrity presenters and anthropomorphism

NATURE-LOVERS have torn into Planet Earth Live, the BBC's ambitious new TV series which broadcasts real-time footage of young animals from five continents.

Viewers have taken particular exception to the choice of Top Gear's Richard Hammond as a presenter, accusing the BBC of choosing 'celebrity' over expertise in recruiting him for what has been billed as a "global Springwatch".

The BBC's Points of View website has been inundated with complaints following the first episode of Planet Earth Live, broadcast on Sunday night. Disgruntled viewers questioned why much-loved TV naturalists such as Chris Packham, Kate Humble and Simon King were not involved.

One viewer commented: "I don't think Richard Hammond is a suitable presenter for wildlife documentaries. He's more interested in trying to be funny and should stick to low grade, inane series that he can't ruin."

Another said: "What a pity such a potentially good programme was spoilt by the MADDENING Richard Hammond. We were never allowed to view the scenes of the animals for any length of time. Such wonderful camera work was always interrupted by Hammond's prattle."

Still another expressed the hope that one of the lions which Hammond is reporting on from the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya would "actually attack and maul to death the incredibly annoying and irritating Richard Hammond live on air".

Julia Bradbury, who co-presents Planet Earth Live from Minnesota, got better reviews – possibly because she has some connection to environmental issues through her work as a presenter with Countryfile.

However, even she was criticised, with viewers accusing her of anthropomorphism and hogging the camera at the expense of the black bears she was in the US to film.

"Particularly gut wrenching was the constant shots of Julia Bradbury's facial expressions when a bear was coming down a tree," said one viewer. "We were informed it was because, like the bear, she too was a first time mother... Pass the bucket."

Hammond actually anticipated the criticism of his involvement in his pre-broadcast publicity interviews, telling the Daily Mirror: "People will say 'why is that bloke from Top Gear doing this'? I can address that head on. I'm there to ask the questions and be amazed.

"Julia and I are not going to be afraid to ask those questions that perhaps some experts wouldn't because they assume greater knowledge."

It seems Hammond might have underestimated the intelligence of an audience made up of people educated by years of excellent BBC documentaries, from landmark series such as The Blue Planet to previous attempts at the 'live' format such as Big Cat Diaries.

One commenter on Points of View suggested as much when they said of other commenters on the website: "I can only assume that most of the posters on here are viewers of a certain age ie. grown up on a rich diet of well-made BBC natural history programmes.

"If you check the comments made on the Facebook pages you will find the ratio of 'Likes' to 'Dislikes' completely different. The Facebook generation seem to like the anthropomorphic presentation that Bradbury & Hammond use. This generation have grown up with dumbed down TV and seem to like it."

However, there was harsh criticism even on social networks. On Twitter, music journalist Pete Paphides said he was enjoying Channel 4's rival - and significantly cheaper - nature series Foxes Live more than Planet Earth Live, explaining: "I think the absence of Richard Hammond and Julia Bradbury is key."

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The wonderful programme was ruined by "breaking news type" interruptions. Significantly less nonsense cuts to presenters and more animal shots would make it one of the best and intriguing programmes. At the moment they are trying to create drama by showing animal life for 2 minutes, talking for 5 and then switching the continent, then coming back and continuing it. It's all over the place- really bad directing.

Choosing Richard Hammond shows up the quality of the people running the BBC these days.
He gives new meaning to the word IDIOT in capital letters. 

Apart from anything else, there was little "live" about it - apart from the two presenters having a whale of a time at our expense.  Any worthwhile footage of the animals was recorded earlier.  What a pointless exercise it is.

Instead of blaming the presenters, who, after all, just do what they are told to, why not direct the ire at the director, who is making a pigs ear out of this, from what I have seen. Calling it 'live' just because they are on location and then showing loads of clips of footage from 'earlier' seems to defeat the object. I'd rather have live boring shots than filmed action, that is cut, edited and narrated over to make it 'exciting'. Big fail from the BBC so far.

I Liked it, im 19 and this is better than some old fag doing it. Hammond made it more interesting but not being boring and script reading like.

Load of rubbish, he is brilliant. 

added, of course, is the fact that the hamster, as richard hammond is funnily known by the lads, is a born-again fox hunter, riding with the ross harriers with his wife. not the best person to present a wildlife programme.

Have stopped watching. Both Hammond and Bradbury are beyond annoying and without any credibility - on any programme actually.

a great show...totally fit for pre-school and primary ages. if this is the sign of things to come and we are all as stupid as this garbage represents, humans dont have long on this earth.

What was built up as a fascinating live series of broadcasts turned into a celeb-led, dumbed-down amalgam of 'recorded earlier' and gurning to camera. Richard Hammond just isn't suited to this sort of programme: he says he's there to ask questions, but seemed more interested in making idiotic comments and stating the blindingly obvious. Julia Bradbury? Clearly a few docs on fell walking don't make her a nature expert - what did she teach us about baby bears? Why wasn't more of it live? Well, as Hammond told us, it was midnight in Sri Lanka, so they'd 'clearly' had to record the pieces from there.....I imagine the reporter there isn't allowed up so late without a note from mummy......
That they're 'soooooo cuuuuuuute'. Dear god. Sure it wasn't supposed to be on CBBC?

There was a time when Peter Jay could write an incredibly convoluted economics piece for The Times and dismiss a sub-editor who complained by saying "This was meant to be understood by three people - and you are not one of them". 

But today the pendulum has swung too far the other way. In print, TV and radio the presumption is that we have to have a "lay person" actually doing the presenting/writing, as they are "representative" of the audience. 

The danger then lies in using presenters who are not so much lay people  as lame-brained. 

There is an alternative: presenters such as Attenborough, Bronowski, Clark and (dare I say it) Cox and Al Khalili, who both know their stuff AND can present it clearly. They do exist...if the airhead yooni graduates now swamping the media can be fagged to find them. 

Yes Simon, Kate or Chris would have been far better, they know what they are talking about.  And who on earth chose the music... frightful indeed. I really looked forward to this progamme but was let down by the choice of presenters.


Because of the presence of Richard Cranium Hammond I made a decision to avoid this series. Too bad for the production crew, but blame has to rest with the directors and/or those who chose an RC. Top Gear is another program I avoid for the same reason.

Richard Hammond was a turn off. I used to quite like him but now I don,t want to watch him again ugh.! Julia Bradbury should stick to her usual

Sadly, a very dull programme lacking the energy and factual interest delivered by Stargazing Live shown earlier this year. But the most annoying thing for me was the description of female lions and bears as 'single mothers'..... what opposed to the happily married ones?

It says a lot about how sad some people's lives are by the fact they are getting so worked up about this. Even if you find Hammond annoying, the programme still has some fantastic footage, I think you mainly ruin it for yourself. The choice of Hammond as a presenter is probably so the show appeals to a wider audience.

People are judging this off one episode. These sorts of programmes always use the first episode to setup the rest of the series. So instead of having a go why not give it a chance. I personally enjoyed it. To be honest the last series of springwatch was a let down. For once I appreciated the fact that the presenters weren't experts who assume that the viewers have the same knowledge and I find that annoying. I hope the series turns out to be a huge success

Just started watching it on Iplayer, have turned it off after 10 minutes. What a load of crap. I love BBC's documentaries, but this was absolutely ridiculous.'This little lion is lonely', how in the world does he know that the little lion is lonely ? The lion is probably happy to be by himself with his mum.

Putting the biggest twat on TV  (Richard Hammond ) to present something he knows nothing about is just another waste of the licence payers money .Simon King should be presenting it :((((

Well i think richard is brilant at it cose i love him julie is good to wy dont you all piss off and leave richard alone he is better then you lot so there if any of you say richard is shit or crap at this i will kill all of you so you beter wach it

Wy dont you shut up i lke to see you try iv been obsed with richard and enyone ho sed he carnt do this.i think you better whch your mouth at what your saying cose if you say enything nasty about richard i will kill you

each to her/his own view but regardless of the presenter, i think the programme is really great, and absolutely amazing footage which of coarse the main thing isnt it, and too much of our usual wildlife presenters would be too predictable. this is a different show and richard is entertaining but gets the point across. cant wait for tonights episode

I share all of the disappointments of the previous posts. However, I find that I can tolerate this programme with the sound off and reading the paper when the 'presenters' are waxing lyrical.

Where is the 'live' part? What, just the presenting bit is live? Lots of pre recorded footage? 'this unfortunate lion is facing huge challenges alone'... this is nature... of course he faces major challenges. I hate cobbled together footage that tries to 'tell a story' with lots of animals called Sophie and Trevor living as though humans, stop trying to dramatise nature!! Just film in real time and leave well alone!!!!

The show is a complete con job and the production team should be ashamed of themselves by calling it "Live". The only live thing is the presenters and I suppose Julia is the only one worth watching - Oh and I suppose the hamster could be classed as vermin or a pest!!

i love planet earth live, great presenters. great job hammond and bradbury have... i hope the lion cub moja will be fine.. best programme on tv.. karen x x

I have enjoyed the glimpes of the animals this evening on Planet Earth Live. Sadly the presenter's took up most of the program talking and re-capping that could have been done as a voice-over while we watched the animals. I'm in agreement with your commenter's who said Hammond is wrong for this type of presenting or any other come to that.

brilliant programe love it x

did hammond realise what a pratt he was==  what producer could be so stupid to create the worst ever animal programme--no more viewing for me

Why show the same bears as on the wonderful program by Gordon Buchanan - it was just the best!!  This is a rubbish wildlife program.