BBC defends 'popular' Richard Hammond from Planet Earth Live critics

May 9, 2012

Corporation brushes off viewers' criticisms of 'inane' Planet Earth Live presenter and lack of live animal footage


THE BBC has sprung to the defence of its blockbuster real-time natural history show Planet Earth Live following complaints from viewers that presenters Richard Hammond and Julia Bradbury know nothing about the subject matter and there is not enough live footage of animals.

Following the programme's debut on Sunday night, which featured black bears in the US, lions in Kenya and grey whales off Mexico, viewers took to the BBC's Points of View website to air their grievances, singling out for criticism Hammond, who is better known as a motoring presenter for his work on Top Gear.

As The Week reported yesterday, some nature-lovers called Hammond "irritating" and "inane" and accused him of interrupting the superb camerawork with "prattle".

Others said Hammond and his co-presenter Bradbury had hogged the limelight and bemoaned the lack of animal footage.

Now, a BBC spokesperson has defended the choice of Hammond and Bradbury as presenters, telling The Week that 5.4 million people had tuned in to view Planet Earth Live and only 118 complaints had been received. She added: "Julia and Richard never claimed to be experts. They are surrounded by experts. Their job is to ask the experts questions about the best stories."

Asked whether it would not have been better to have cast one of the BBC's large number of well-known, expert natural history presenters - Chris Packham, for example - she said that "Julia and Richard are very popular presenters" and reiterated that they are "surrounded by an incredible team" and are "very good at interviewing people".

On criticisms that not enough live animal footage was being shown for a show billed as 'Live', the spokesperson said that she was happy with the balance of the shows and pointed to the content available on Twitter and the show's website.

Whether or not the producers are forced to take note of the complaints might well depend on the audience figures for tonight's show; a large proportion of complainants said they would not watch the series again.

Meanwhile, nature lovers in search of expert commentary, albeit on less majestic animals than those featured on Planet Earth Live, can look forward to the BBC's well-established 'real-time' natural history show Springwatch, which starts this month, presented by Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan.

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I am a huge BBC supporter but it is incredible how whenever producers meet criticism on Feedback or elsewhere,  that they NEVER admit fault - no producer ever says,  "you're right,  we've got this one wrong".  One hundred percent of the time they explain indignantly why their judgement is just right and the public are somehow mistaken.   

It is exasperating. 

Vacuous, fatuous male presenter. Such a disappointment after all the hype surrounding this programme.

That's hardly a surprise, after all, the BBC is not exactly know for admitting mistakes and always takes cover behind the shield of "Auntie knows best".

only one answer to this ---- SWITCH OVER !!!!!!!

Auntie BBC knows best..What next -  Clarkson on British Social history.

We should all cancel or not renew our TV licence. You don't need one if you don't watch live TV. You can even watch iplayer without a licence. BBC have long since stopped caring what the public actually wants, instead they think they can just hobble together some blue-peter style crap and you will all watch it. Complain? Complaining is forbidden. Vote with your feet, drop your TV licence and watch something a bit more intellectual, like telletubbies.

Why does the BBC think they know more than the licence payers the only thing they are expert on is wasting money.

The only thing live are the humans... boring

Have seen most of what was screened on much better wildlife progammes.  I watch Bears on live webcams and never witnessed Jewel not caring for her cubs in snow.

Hammond is an excellant choice.he comes across as someone who is just finding out for the first time about the excitment of raw nature.

sadie  a cracking name for that lion

courage is a good name for the lion.

Please ask David Hammond to stop waving his hands around and talking to us as if we are 10 years old.  He KEEPS REPEATING himself.  We saw and heard what he said 2 minutes before .....  WHY him - he is so irritating and we would prefer more of the Masai local guy to present - whose English is excellent.

How the BBC could dream of making this programme without Terry Nutkin is beyond me. I demand a refund.

Hammond doesn't bother me.  What I loathe is the childish anthropomorphism (sp?) of the animals: giving them names is fair enough but attributing them with human emotions and feelings is just silly and irritating.  Yet more dumbing down by the BBC.

get rid of Hammond, and lets see more animals, then it would be a good show!

Can you for once, the BBC, listen to your viewers? The people that are paying the licence fee for you for another 5 years and the people who are making you able to produce the programmes that other channels can't? Hammond and Bradbury know nothing about wildlife and are ruining the show. The same thing here is happening with Film 2012 with Winkleman. Her partner Danny is keeping the show from being axed. She knows nothing about film.

A programme like this should be presented by the likes of Kate Humble and Simon King or even Bill Oddie. If it is about the way of the planet, then get David Attenborough out there. Think about why so many of your established programmes which had survived many decades has been axed over the past 8 years. The programme started with presenters with little name but who knew about the subject on hand made the show popular and they made names for themselves. People watched because they knew what they were talking about. Then you change the format, dumb it down, replace the long-running knowledgeable presenters with big name presenters who nothing about the subject or some Tony Buckland-esque billie no name who doesn't know how to either present or know the subject, viewers complain, you ignore them, they in return switch off and then you axe the programme because nobody is watching. Can you see the pattern here?

I actually had high hopes for this series considering the amount of coverage and promotion BBC1 gave it. I knew being on BBC1 it wasn't going to be as logical as BBC2 wildlife due to it's demand for an audience share but I was hopeful. Guess what, I can't now see it returning in 2013. I think it will be axed straight after the first season and if it is back next year, I'll eat my hat for real. Shame, it had great potential.

Thank you BBC for destroying what could have been a good series. Cheers for that. And while you are at it, look at yourselves in a mirror, get your head out of asses and think about why you can't seem to hold a long-running niche series today like you could back in the 60s and 70s. Think about why you have axed the likes of Tomorrow's World, Top of the Pops and very nearly Gardener's World a few years ago and think about who's doing that was.

PS: If Earthflight returns for another series in the new year, don't even mess with that series. It is what a modern BBC documentary should be like.

Planet Earth Live = Richard and Julia show.  Sorry - impossible to watch.