‘Popular’ Richard Hammond can’t halt Planet Earth Live switch-off
BBC’s blockbuster nature show sheds 2 million viewers after disappointing debut
THE BBC’S blockbuster ‘real-time’ nature series Planet Earth Live shed 2 million viewers between its Sunday night debut and last night’s second episode following an outcry from viewers over the suitability of presenters Richard Hammond and Julia Bradbury and the lack of ‘live’ footage of animals.
Yesterday, a BBC spokesperson dismissed complaints about Top Gear presenter Hammond’s lack of natural history knowledge, saying his job was to interview experts and that he was a “popular” figure. Of complaints that Hammond and Bradbury were hogging the camera, she professed to be happy at the balance. Other complaints are yet to be satisfactorily addressed, such as why the production team chose to film at this time of year in Kenya, when it gets dark early and rain is frequent. The complaints can be seen at the BBC’s Points of View website.
The spokesperson told The Week that only 118 complaints had been received from an audience of 5.4 million.
But the defence that Hammond is "popular" is looking threadbare today following last night’s viewing figures of 3.7 million. It means that between Sunday and Wednesday, Planet Earth Live’s share of audience fell from 22 per cent to 16 per cent.
It is likely that a large number of last night’s viewers were the television equivalent of rubberneckers at a car crash – tuning in only to see what the fuss was about. The viewing figures for tonight's third episode could well confirm the show’s downward trajectory – and pile pressure on the production team to ring the changes.