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Former Springwatch star Kate Humble says she finds live TV terrifying!

Kate Humble (Lion Television Ltd. Laura Rawlinson)
Kate Humble (Lion Television Ltd. Laura Rawlinson)

WITH her tousled hair, beaming smile and boundless enthusiasm, Kate Humble has been a natural wonder on our screens for two decades now.

From big cats to small birds, tranquil wilderness to violent volcanoes, she’s brought them all to the viewing millions.

Countryfile, Rough Science and Lambing Live are just three of the hit shows with which Kate has been indelibly linked.

For many, though, it was Springwatch and then Autumnwatch which truly secured a place for the effervescent presenter in the nation’s heart.

Kate Humble ( Joel Anderson / eyevine) © Joel Anderson / eyevine
Kate Humble ( Joel Anderson / eyevine)

But Kate, 47, has told iN10 why she had to walk away from the shows which helped make her famous.

“I had been doing them for a long time,” says Kate.

“I loved the shows and I loved working with Chris Packham but I just felt it was time for a change.

“I’m quite a restless person and I need new challenges.

“I need to do new things.

“Springwatch is an enormously important programme in highlighting our wildlife.

“It needs reinvigorating to keep it fresh and one of the ways of doing that is bringing in new people.

“So I knew that by leaving it would have a fresh lease of life which would be good for it.

“It was a big risk, but it wasn’t done without a lot of thought.

“I’ve been doing a raft of other projects since and I feel very happy.

“With Springwatch you had 12 live programmes and with Autumnwatch maybe eight in a short time. So I suppose people were more aware of you being on screen.

“But I’ve been doing more documentaries that take more time to make for less screen time.”

It’s hardly as if TV bosses have turned their back on Kate. Far from it.

Wild Shepherdess with Kate Humble (Luke Pavey)
Wild Shepherdess with Kate Humble (Luke Pavey)

She has reunited with Ben Fogle for a new Animal Park on BBC1 in August to celebrate Longleat’s 50th anniversary.

There’s a forthcoming BBC2 series called Back To The Land, plus she’s been jetting back and forward across the Atlantic for another major project on America’s vast Yellowstone National Park.

And come November she’ll be fronting another of the BBC’s ambitious outside broadcasts.

Arctic Live, running over several days, will see Kate host a series of programmes looking at life in the frozen wilderness and the effect of climate change and man’s encroachment.

Looking back, there’s a definite theme running through Kate’s previous work.

Lambing Live, Volcano Live, Airport Live, Building Cars Live. They’re on top, of course, of the always-live Springwatch and Autumnwatch where things could, and often did, go wrong.

But while there’s obviously more than a passing affection for the buzz of instant telly, Kate has a somewhat surprising confession.

“I love live TV more than anything – but it’s blooming terrifying.

“Every time I do it, when they say in my ear that we’ve got 10 seconds to live I feel like I’m going to be sick.

“But adrenaline is good and I love that immediate connection with people.”

The sheer variety of Kate’s work – and the undoubted affection of viewers – has kept her in demand in a cut-throat business which spits out flavour-of-the-month presenters with ruthless disregard.

“I think I’ve been 20 years on camera, which is an incredibly long time,” she admits.

“I’m lucky I’ve had an extremely long career – you do have to keep shifting so you don’t go out of date.

“You have to keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. The day will come when they’ll say ‘thanks very much’ and it’ll all come to an end, but hopefully not yet.

“When it does I’ll think that I’ve had a pretty good innings – but I’ll also miss it like mad.

“There hasn’t been a single time when I’ve been bored filming.

“I love telling stories and when the time comes I’ll hopefully be able to still do that by writing.”

Kate Humble and Bill Oddie (Matthew Usher/ EDP pics)
Kate Humble and Bill Oddie (Matthew Usher/ EDP pics)

Kate’s already been putting words to the pages of books, not telly scripts, and her latest is Friend For Life.

It’s a look at the relationship between man and his best friend and was inspired by her sheepdog puppy Teg, the latest addition to the canine brood roaming the Welsh farm she shares with telly producer husband Ludo. But although she’s obviously a dog lover – in fact, you get the feeling there are few creatures Kate wouldn’t happily spend some time with – she’s relatively new to being a proud pooch person.

“I didn’t have a dog until 2008 when I got Badger, a rescue dog from the RSPCA.

“He had a lot of issues – well, he still does, but not as much – and then afterwards we got Bella.

“But Teg is a working dog and that’s very different.”

She admits it’s a somewhat comical relationship as she tries to learn his working ways.

And there’s no doubting her admiration and awe at the part dogs play in lives all across the planet.

She talks passionately about how dogs were the first domesticated animals perhaps 40,000 years ago. They evolved from tame wolves to not just cuddly companions but genuine lifesavers.

“They’ve become the eyes and ears of many people,” she says.

“And they’ve become able to detect human cancers, which is absolutely remarkable.

“They know when someone who is diabetic is about to go into a dangerous hypo when it seems their own bodies don’t even tell them that.

“For the book I also spoke to frontline troops in Afghanistan and they said they just couldn’t be without them.

“With all the cuts there have been in the military, they said the one area they just couldn’t cut was the dogs.

“There was no technology or machine that was as good as a dog at finding an IED.”

Kate’s every bit as impassioned and engaged in conversation as she is on screen – open, interested and not short of an opinion.

“I hate the fact that people spend all their time staring down at their phones or on the internet these days.

“People say, ‘I sent you an email and you didn’t respond’. I was in a field! Why not call? Or even better, come and see me.

“We’ve lost the most important thing of actually seeing each other face-to-face and that’s such a shame.”

She’s been married to Ludo for the best part of a quarter of a century. Not bad in any walk of life – never mind the fickle world of TV.

“I’m away an awful lot,” she adds.

“I know some people will say what kind of relationship is that when you never see each other, but it’s what we’re used to and for us that’s normal.

“Of course I miss him a lot when we’re apart – but if I’m really honest I miss the dogs more!”

Friend For Life by Kate Humble (published by Headline, £16.99) is out now.


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