Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Friday, 30 January 2009

Bill Oddie flies Springwatch nest

Bill Oddie
Oddie first found fame as a comedy performer in the 1960s

TV presenter and ornithologist Bill Oddie has quit wildlife programme Springwatch, the BBC has confirmed.

The former Goodie has decided to "take a breather" and will not take part in the next series, which begins in May.

He has presented the nightly nature show for the last four years alongside Kate Humble. It is not yet known whether anyone will take his place.

The new series of Springwatch will kick off with a one-hour special showcasing Oddie's favourite moments.

"I'm really going to miss working with Kate and the team but after an amazing four years of really intense work it feels like the right time to take a breather and recharge my batteries," the often-cantankerous presenter said.

Expertise

The BBC said Oddie remained an important part of the wildlife broadcasting team and would continue to work on other programmes, including Bill Oddie's Top Ten.

The door has been left open for him to return to Springwatch - although he has almost certainly been ruled out of this year's instalment of the series' sister show, Autumnwatch.

Neil Nightingale, head of the BBC natural history unit, said: "Bill's inimitable style, in depth expertise and unflinching dedication have helped establish Springwatch and Autumnwatch as two of the nation's favourite natural history programmes.

"Although he's stepping out of the picture for this series he remains an important member of the Springwatch family."

Springwatch, which encourages viewers to spot wildlife in their gardens and get involved with nature conservation, is a popular fixture in BBC Two's schedules.

Its appeal has been put down to the play-off between Oddie's gruff, matter-of-fact persona and Humble's more chatty manner.

Last year's series had an average of 3.5 million viewers nightly.

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