Encore: Bill springs into life with Sheffield visit

Bill Oddie.
Bill Oddie.
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TV’s favorite wildlife man Bill Oddie will be in Sheffield next week making a guest appearance at the University of Sheffield Students’ Union FLASH! series of talks.

He will be launching Spring Into Nature Week, highlighting ways to promote the University’s biodiversity, and yet to many people he is still best known as a member of The Goodies,

The anarchic comedy trio with Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden have rarely been seen since they ended on TV in the early Eighties.

“It’s rather bizarre how I keep getting asked about them,” he says. “In fact I am going to Australia at the end of June for an event. The following there is huge, it’s a pleasant surprise.

“And over here we seem to be getting more popular. Parents are buying the DVDs and their youngsters are watching them.

“The BBC never repeated them for a huge period of time. We will never know why.

“When the Goodies finished after 10 or 11 years it was a shame we didn’t carry on in some way for a bit more because five or six years later independent production came in and you saw these shows like alas Smith and Jones.”

Not so long ago Bill Oddie got back together with Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden. “It was a slapstick festival in Bristol where Aardman is based and all three of us went to take part in Q & As and the showing of clips.”

It helped that Oddie was able to re-invent himself trhough his lifelong love of ornithology and embark on a career that included 15 years on the BBC Springwatch programme which at its peak had five million weekly viewers,

“I never intended it like that and certainly not on TV,” he says. “I think it was TVam who started it with Wild Weekend which was supposed to be for only five weeks but just carried on. That’s how it all started and my big breakthrough came when I met Stephen Moss, who was already at the BBC by then. I’ve worked with him ever since and I still do a lot of talks with him.”

He is no longer part of the Springwatch team. “I had to give that up for health reasons of a bipolar nature,” he explains. “I went through a shaky time for a while but I have regained my hold on that.”

Oddie says that giving up his TV commitments has enabled him to become involved in a variety of issues ranging from helping to protect rainforests and whales to opposing badger culling and fox hunting.

He says he is looking forward to talking to students in Sheffield. “I want to hear what people from that age group are interested in and worried about in the natural world and what they would be prepared to do about it,” he says.

He has fond memories of Sheffield. “Back in the Seventies on a music tour I do remember playing at the university and that was the best gig we did on tour,” he says and he is hoping for more of the same.