MARTIN Hughes-Games is nervous. His five-year-old has just started a new school.

“I think he’s more relaxed than I am, which is great, I hope it remains that way,” he says quickly.

It’s a far cry from the days of broadcasting live to millions on the set of Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch (‘the Watches’) several nights a week.

Softly spoken, a pair of glasses perched in a nest of thick hair, with his boyish sense of wonder, it’s not surprising audiences were up in arms after he was sacked in 2016.

“I’m so grateful to people, there was such uproar about it,” Martin said. “I went to see the then Head of Factual Television and he said, ‘I’ve had letters from very angry ladies. We’re going to re-instate you’.”

Martin is heading to Harrogate with fellow-Springwatch presenter, Iolo Williams, to present their family-friendly Wildlife Road Trip show at the Royal Hall on October 17.

He promises to tell audiences exactly what goes on behind the scenes of Springwatch.

“It will be highly entertaining. Iolo and I will be talking about how we got into television, both very different routes and odd ways. Mine involved a rather beautiful actress.”

Martin flat-shared with Amanda Redman in Bristol, where the BBC Natural History unit is based, and she got him an interview with one of the producers she was working with.

He produced wildlife TV for 30 years, before presenting the Watches for 12 years.

“The Wildlife Road Trip draws on all those years of wildlife film-making to show some of the highlights of my career, such as testing how fast a Peregrine Falcon can fly by going into a hot air balloon, jumping out of the hot air balloon, being chased by the Peregrine Falcon and finding out how fast it was going while we were in freefall,” he laughs.

It’s not surprising he became a cliched housewives’ favourite. He says his fans were, on the whole, lovely.

York Press: Martin Hughes-GamesMartin Hughes-Games

“Apart from the odd lewd suggestion and unusual offer, I’ve never had anything totally bonkers. That’s one of the lovely things about working on the Watches – people love the content, seeing inside the nests, and by proxy they kind of like you as well, so most of the feeling you get is very positive and very warm.”

Martin started his career with a degree in Zoology, so talking about his passion on TV was ‘just a dream’ job, which goes some way explaining his zeal.

“Iolo and I are overjoyed when kids come to see our show, because we want to get them interested. David Attenborough’s always said if you get people interested, they’ll care more and that’s certainly true. What’s going on in the natural world is not good, but unless people are made aware of it – hopefully in our case in an enjoyable and entertaining way – in the hope that by getting people interested, they’ll continue to care.”

Since it launched in 2005, Springwatch is credited for changing our relationship with the UK’s nature. Unlike wildlife documentaries focussed on foreign climes and the majesty of lions, elephants and sharks, it followed blue tits, badgers, foxes (and their poo).

It also broke down barriers, as the presenters chatted and interacted with audiences, bringing in their photos, comments and questions, encouraging viewers to be citizen scientists.

Martin quit Springwatch in 2019, despite being reinstated in 2016. Had he had enough of TV, or does he grieve those days?

“Actually, for an awful lot of people I think, it’s a very disturbing time when you retire. It’s not at all what you think it’s going to be. But one of the reasons I did is I have Samson, my son, who is now five. That’s my job. My wife also works in television which is very demanding. So yes, it was very odd, very difficult stopping, but then I have the discipline and the routine of looking after a toddler in its place.”

York Press: Wildlife duo head for Harrogate next monthWildlife duo head for Harrogate next month

Now 65, has having a young son changed his outlook in life?

“It has greatly. I have two other sons, one who is 30 and the other is 32, and I’m now a grandfather. I know that I missed out on my sons growing up a lot because I was selfish. I was really driven by my work and I’d be away in India filming for four weeks as a producer. I am much more mellow now – I’m a much better dad that’s for sure – much more relaxed, and forgiving and gentle.”

Despite being more content and feeling ‘incredibly blessed’ to be a dad again, he’s dealing with some personal issues.

“My mum’s dying of Alzheimer’s at the moment, and I’m very worried for my sister. We’re all up and down, aren’t we? Everyone’s life.”

He’s looking forward to getting back on the road, and heading to Yorkshire. Aside from filming bats with Simon King, he hasn’t much experience of the county.

“What I’d really love to do is come up with my motorbike, because Yorkshire has some really fantastic scenery. Once Sam’s a little bit older, I’ll stick him on the back of the bike and we’ll come up and go round Yorkshire.”

Martin Hughes-Games and Iolo Williams present A Wildlife Road Trip on Sunday 17 October, 7pm, at the Royal Hall in Harrogate.

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