Reviewer: Andrew White
On a pleasant summer’s evening, it was very heartening to see a packed Rotherham Civic Theatre welcome TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham to continue his eight-event tour across Britain. This was his only gig in Yorkshire, and several members of the audience did make big journeys to get see their favourite wildlife advocate.
It’s always interesting to see how people who aren’t comedians or musicians approach giving talks – and Packham’s delivery here was a joy to behold. Demonstrating the presentation skills which have led him to be one of the most recognisable faces on television, fronting programmes such as Springwatch, Secrets of Our Living Planet and of course The Really Wild Show, Packham was articulate, knowledgeable and witty.
The theme of the evening was a Wild Night Out, and Packham explained his own views on the re-introduction of several species into the United Kingdom, including wolves, lynx and others. His insights into the fascinating ecologies and behaviours were telling – and his views on the “problems” foxes pose in urban areas were well-thought through and persuasive. And his revelation about the most dangerous mammal in the United Kingdom was quite alarming…
Many people will know Packham as a presenter, but not as many will know him as a photographer of note – and the talk was illustrated by a spectacular number of his images. In a later section, he explained the lengths he went to get an amazing photograph of a big cat over the top of a field of grasses. And his tale of how he used a quad bike and a trailer to get a stunning photograph of a cheater at speed was deeply interesting. Here, Packham showed himself to be quite the perfectionist; with him revealing something from every fascinating image he wasn’t happy with.
But while wowing us with photos of lions and other big cats, he explained his latest project is a detailed study of pond skaters (water strider) on the river a little way from his own back yard. The images Packham showed here were highly creative and unlike anything else depicting these less-than-attractive creatures.
Throughout, Packham’s wit shines through, with more than the odd passing mention to football, and the audience offered a hearty round of applause at the end of a very entertaining and informative evening.
Reviewed on: 6th July 2014