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