ONE is a former anarchist punk rocker, the other’s the heir to the throne.
Yet outspoken anti-hunt campaigner Chris Packham and keen shot Prince Charles have more in common than first meets the eye.
Former anarchist and punk rocker Chris Packham has revealed that he is planning to get together with Prince Charles to talk about green issues[/caption]
The Sun can reveal that the unlikely pair are planning a get together to thrash out green issues.
Chris, 58, revealed: “We’ve agreed to meet and have a chat and see if we can find some common ground on some issues. He’s always had a keen interest in the environment.”
The Springwatch presenter – a fan of The Sex Pistols who topped the chats with God Save The Queen 1977 – collared the royal for a meeting when he received his CBE for services to conservation last week.
It was a “slightly odd” day for the TV presenter, with Chris admitting: “The thought did go through my mind, ‘Have I become the bastard I hated when I was 14?’”
He chats to the Sun’s Amy Jones about his keen interest in the environment as well as his love of music[/caption]
Accepting the honour required some thought, but he admits: “Not many honours are given to people working in conservation so that’s definitely a win.
“But a lot of people work a lot harder than I do – I’m a bit embarrassed by it.”
I’m walking with Chris through the woodlands of the New Forest and he is in his element. With binoculars slung round his neck, he points out the strange circular formations made by ants in the grass and marvels at a sprawling oak tree.
But the weather is overcast, and a shadow hangs over the mood too.
Chris reflects on his work in conservation[/caption]
We meet on Saturday, when Chris was supposed to be hosting Dogstival – a festival for dogs that he’d been helping to plan since August.
Unfortunately, after being bombarded by threatening abuse from pro-shooting extremists, the organisers made the difficult decision to remove him from the bill.
“I was disappointed,” Chris admits. “I still wanted to go. But they got the most horrendous bullying – people tearing down their posters and ringing them up with threatening messages.”
When I meet co-organiser Richard Nowell, 43, later in the day at the Pylewell Park event near Lymington, Hampshire, he tells me the decision was “heart-wrenching”.
He said: “We received emails saying that protesters were going to descend by the ‘coach load’ and calls that were so threatening my wife was left in tears on many nights.
I still wanted to go. But they got the most horrendous bullying – people tearing down their posters and ringing them up with threatening messages.
“We loved working with Chris so cancelling him felt awful. But it became a matter of public safety and we couldn’t really see another course of action.”
He recently received a CBE because of it, saying the experience was ‘slightly odd’[/caption]
Packham has been the subject of a hate campaign since Natural England revoked blanket licences to kill “pest” birds on farmland.
Wild Justice, a group co-founded by Packham, challenged three general licences which allowed the shooting of 16 species including crows, magpies, Canada geese and wood pigeons.
Now shooters can apply online for individual licences to control wild birds, but confusion on the topic reigns and tempers still rage over the issue.
‘WE WANT YOU DEAD’
Chris has been sent human faeces in the post and one day woke up to find dead crows hanging from the gate outside his house.
His partner Charlotte Corney’s zoo was targeted, as were charities the presenter works with.
The police became involved after vile bullies vowed to kill Chris and threatened his family. One particularly sinister letter read: “We want you dead. We will succeed.”
However, it isn’t all good news for the Springwatch presenter who has been the victim of death threats recently[/caption]
Incredibly, Chris has dealt with the ordeal with good humour.
When he was sent a drawing of a penis on a block of wood, he christened it a ‘double headed tadpole’, made a viral video and sold it for £3,050. The money, naturally, is going back into conservation.
Chris was quite keen on keeping his most recent piece of correspondence – a letter, scrawled with the word ‘TW*T’ – but the police insisted on taking it.
“I wanted to frame it,” he smiles. But Hampshire police have treated the threats “very seriously” and the BBC’s security department have been in touch to offer him assistance too.
The RSPB vice president added: “We’ve already got CCTV but the police have given us further advice about that.
“And they’ve have decided to exercise their police dogs in training in the woodlands around our house.
“They’ve had some leads from the public which look promising. They’ve been absolutely brilliant, I can’t fault them.”
While he waits for more news, Chris is set to return to our screens on Springwatch, which is back on BBC Two next Monday (May 27).
It’s in its fifteenth series and Packham says: “I get to do what I did when I was a kid, but using technology I never dreamed would be available.”
USE AND ABUSE
But he’s less effusive about I’m A Celeb, which last week won an award for best reality TV show at the BAFTAs.
Chris criticises I’m A Celeb for it’s ‘use and abuse’ approach to animals[/caption]
He says the “use and abuse” of animals every year must stop.
He said: “I write them letters every year and they never get back to me. One time I sent the producers an offer saying, ‘Give me a job on your programme – lets turn this around.’
“I could be there in the jungle and instead of eating the animals we could celebrate them. They can still do the encounters, they can have animals on them and go ‘urgh’ but we could make it educational at the same time.
“They always ignore me, I don’t know why I bother.”
While his attempts to work with ITV haven’t proven successful, Chris says he is heartened by the Extinction Rebellion protests[/caption]
While ITV may ignore his pleas, Chris is heartened by recent calls for action on climate change.
Chris was a prominent supporter of last month’s Extinction Rebellion protests in London – speaking at the Oxford Street hub.
He said: “They had a boat rigged up and I was down there for two or three hours. It was like a festival.
“They had a speaker playing the Clash and the Ruts – which is good because one dose of Coldplay and I would have been gone.”
Emma Thompson came under fire after flying to the UK to join the protests[/caption]
At the time Chris pleaded with celebrities – including Simon Cowell and Graham Norton – to join the demos insisting that, “it’s their world that’s being destroyed too”.
He added: “They are so protective of their public profiles and it discredits them because it makes them dishonest because they are not actually saying something.
“Now is the time to raise your voice.”
PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH
Perhaps, I say to Chris, there is some fear in speaking out. When Emma Thompson threw her weight behind the climate change debate she received a huge backlash for her frequent flying.
He says: “In terms of the ethics of the situation you can quibble over some of the detail, flights and so on and so forth, but we are all having to go through a process of transitional change.
“So what has happened is, Emma is now confronted with something that she hadn’t been confronted with before – she has got to think, ‘Ok, how am I going to continue to do acting, and how can I minimise my carbon footprint whilst doing it?’”
Chris says that he is vegan, avoids all single use plastic and hasn’t been on holiday for seven years[/caption]
When it comes to practising what he preaches, Chris’ record is pretty impeccable. He’s vegan, avoids all single use plastic, and hasn’t been on holiday for seven years.
“Charlotte does sometimes like to stress that,” he laughs.
‘CRUSTY ECO WARRIOR’
He is planning to use public transport or car share to make his way to this year’s Springwatch, set in the Cairngorms, Scotland, and when flying abroad for work offsets his carbon footprint out of his own pocket.
It’s easy to label Packham as a crusty eco warrior.
But as someone who has worked with Chris several times over the years, I think it’s more simple than that – he wants to leave the world a better place than he found it.
Not just by campaigning for a better environment, but by striving to do the right thing.
Chris’ mission is simple – he wants to leave the world a better place than he found it[/caption]
At Dogstival, Chris was due to catch up with charity Dogs for Good, who provide dogs to families with autistic children.
“The difference these dogs make is absolutely incredible,” he enthuses.
“You see kids who refuse to go outside starting to venture into their gardens within a few days and then move on to walking the dogs. The transformations are incredible.”
When he was cancelled from the festival, Chris – who has spoken openly about his own Asperger’s – was contacted by the mother of a young autistic lad who had been very excited to meet his idol.
He said: “They’d come all the way from East Anglia and his mother said he was mad about dogs and a big fan of mine. I can understand the first bit, but not sure about the second part.
“She said he was really upset so I gave her my address and told them to pop round this afternoon. I’m quite happy for them to come round and have a bit of cake and sit in the garden.”
He believes his values are drawn from the punk music he listened to when he was younger, saying it’s all about ‘independence, defiance and refusing to take no as an answer’[/caption]
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He claims that his values are drawn from the punk music he cherished growing up.
Chris, who is currently working on a BBC Four documentary on the origins of his favourite music genre, said: “It’s about independence, defiance and refusing to take no as an answer.”
There’s clearly life in the old punk yet.
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