BBC blames ‘challenging times financially’ as Autumnwatch is cancelled

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The BBC has cancelled its Autumnwatch programme, saying it faces “challenging times financially”.

The nature series, which features Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan among its presenters, charts the fortunes of British wildlife during the season and airs on BBC Two.

The BBC said the show would not take place in 2023 and beyond as it seeks to “focus” its resources on content that has “the highest impact”.

A statement said: “These are challenging times financially and we need to make difficult decisions and focus our resources on content that has the highest impact.

“Sadly, this means that Autumnwatch will not be continuing. Instead, we are investing more money into Springwatch and Winterwatch, as they are most popular with audiences.

“We are incredibly proud of the Watches and would like to thank the presenters and production team who will continue on Springwatch when it returns in May for three weeks, and Winterwatch when it returns next year for one week, reduced from two weeks.”

Presenter Chris Packham recently interviewed Sir David Attenborough for Winterwatch (BBC/PA)

The series began in 2005, with the success of Springwatch prompting the BBC to commission a one-off special of Autumnwatch, which became a full series in 2006.

Winterwatch began in 2012.

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said the end of Autumnwatch offered an opportunity for the BBC to “rebalance its wildlife programming”.

He added: “The BBC covers many rural issues well and produces lots of good countryside content, but there have been concerns about Autumnwatch’s unrealistic and anthropomorphic approach for many years.

“It won’t be missed in the countryside.”

The BBC has delivered more than £1 billion of savings in the five years to 2021/22.

It needs to save a further £285 million in response to the announcement in January 2022 that the licence fee will be frozen for the next two years.

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