Winterwatch viewers want favourite Martin Hughes-Games reinstated

‘Bring him back!’ BBC viewers demand Winterwatch favourite Martin Hughes-Games is reinstated after they STILL can’t get used to ‘annoying’ replacement presenter Gillian Burke

  • Viewer’s favourite Martin Hughes-Games, 62, was nowhere to be seen in the first episode of BBC2’s Winterwatch after appearing on the show last year
  • Presenter revealed in 2016 that he would not be featuring as regularly
  • Gillian Burke, 42, who replaced Hughes-Games, hasn’t yet won viewers over despite appearing regularly on the  seasonal versions of the programme
  • Naturalist Iolo Williams also joins the line-up in the new base in the Cairngorms 

The first episode of the new series of Winterwatch saw new regular presenter Gillian Burke offered a reception as frosty as the Cairngorms air by viewers – as they still mourn the absence of fan favourite Martin Hughes-Games. 

Broadcasting from a new base in Scotland, veterans Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan were also joined by a new line-up; Kenyan-born Burke, 42, and 56-year-old naturalist Iolo Williams.

Shortly after the programme aired, many took to social media to cry ‘bring Martin back’, saying they missed the 62-year-old’s ‘enthusiastic’ input on the show and couldn’t get used to the new Winterwatch line-up. 

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The first episode of the new series of Winterwatch saw Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan joined by presenter Gillian Burke, who has been a regular on the show since Martin Hughes-Games announced his role had been scaled back in 2016. Viewers expecting to see Martin feature took to Twitter to express their disappointment

Biology graduate Burke, 42, and naturalist Iolo Williams, 56, joined the regular presenters in the Cairngorms but many viewers felt like Burke’s predecessor Hughes-Games, should have been acknowledged on air for his contribution to the show  

As it was: In 2016, Hughes-Games said he felt his role was being pared down so the show could be more diverse. After not appearing on Springwatch in 2018, he was also absent from last night’s first episode of the new series of Winterwatch

Others admitted they’d tried to like the format without him – he didn’t appear on Springwatch or Autumnwatch – but were still unimpressed, while some said the programme should have acknowledged his contribution – of 14 years – on air during last night’s programme.  

@barnowlsandbats wrote: ‘So happy to see #Winterwatch back- it’s my fave thing but would’ve been nice if the show had honoured Martin’s departure officially. It’s the v least he deserves considering after taking 30 secs saying he would not be around for last year’s S-watch he’s not been mentioned again.’ 

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@AnneGor90599905 pleaded: ‘Miss Martin Games-Hughes! Bring him back!#winterwatch’ 

@AndrewRCushing agreed, writing: ‘I have to say I miss Martin Hughes-Games. No disrespect to all the other presenters but his unadulterated enthusiasm really bought the show to life.’ 

@__fyi_ added: ‘It’s been a year. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nothing against her but i’m just not feeling it for Gillian. Sorry #winterwatch’

The 42-year-old said before the show aired that she was delighted to be part of the team for the seventh series of the show. She said: ‘I cannot wait to get going and bring the best of British wildlife from our new home in the Cairngorms!’

…but viewers weren’t impressed with the new line-up…and didn’t hold back on Twitter

New year, new team…the trio will be introducing viewers to some of the wildest animals living in the UK

This year’s Winterwatch sees the team looking at the inhabitants of the Cairnsgorms, one of the wildest landscapes in Scotland

His replacement may be struggling to win over viewers, but Burke is equally qualified for the job; she graduated from Bristol with a degree in biology, as did Hughes-Games. 

At the time his departure was announced, she responded to the idea that she had ousted him with shock, saying: ‘Can you imagine the horror for me of apparently busting into the party and being blamed for breaking it up?’

The show airs over four nights, during which time, the quartet will focus on the animals living in one of the UK’s wildest areas including mountain hares, white-tailed eagles and pine martens.

Winterwatch, Tuesday-Friday, 8pm (except Wednesday, 9pm), BBC2 

Michaela Strachan’s winter wishlist

We’re never guaranteed to see wildlife, but in the beautiful, dramatic Cairngorms the chances are pretty high. 

We’ll be looking for the big, iconic animals, of course, but what I love is focusing on the small stuff that’s often easy to overlook. 

The Watches in Britain are able to do things that other wildlife documentaries can’t – in Africa, viewers expect big game, so you wouldn’t film a flea. 

But a louse can have a more interesting lifecycle than a lion, when you get close up.

Michaela Strachan recalls using a carcass of meat to attract a golden eagle in a past trip to Scotland (file image) 

Of course, the big species are fascinating too. 

We’re taking a wishlist that includes badgers and otters – I hope we get lucky.

 Scotland has plentiful deer, but they’re skittish. 

And in the past, we’ve put out a carcass of meat as a supersize bird feeder and it drew a golden eagle. 

That beats putting out fat for the blue tits.

And in the Cairngorms, who knows what the weather will be? We expect a Winterwatch to be cold. 

It ceases to be a joke if it’s still sub-zero come the springtime, but if there’s no snow in winter we’ll be disappointed. 

It’s not as though we’re roughing it in tents: we all stay in hotels. 

Chris Packham in particular is not a great camper, and as he’s got older he definitely needs his indoor comforts. 

We’re outdoor people – but it’s always nice to go back to a hot bath!


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