New 8.30pm start time announced (for Fri 30th October onwards)
This year there have been two key changes to Autumnwatch - a change of shape for the series and a change of transmission time.
If you watched Points Of View today, you'll know we've made an announcement that, from Friday 30th October - and for the rest of this series of Autumnwatch - we are going to be starting the show at 8.30pm. I hope that this will come as welcome news to those of you who were concerned about our current start time of 9pm.
Having thought long and heard about the realities of the autumn season and its wildlife events, as well as the practicalities of making the live TV programmes and the web site, we decided to give Autumnwatch a new shape. We talked to BBC TWO and decided to play Autumnwatch 2009 out over eight weeks rather than strip it over two weeks, so that viewers could enjoy the beauty, drama and spectacle of this season, from the very beginnings of autumn in early October to the onset of winter in late November.
Although Autumnwatch has run at 8pm in the past, BBC TWO's biggest shows are made with either an 8pm or 9pm slot in mind. This enables BBC TWO to be flexible with the schedule and find the best slot for the programme. Taking into account the fact that we would also be showing our new Autumnwatch Unsprung programme immediately after Autumnwatch, BBC TWO decided that 9pm on Friday evenings was the best slot for the show, with Autumnwatch Unsprung starting at 10pm (with repeats of both of them most weeks on a Saturday late afternoon or early evening).
We're proud of the fact that we have a very close dialogue with our viewers, not least on our message board and here on the blog. In recent weeks it has become apparent that some viewers have been concerned about this new, 9pm start, particularly with regards to the family audience. We've been reading and listening closely.
TV scheduling is a very tricky game at the best of times, particularly for a programme like Autumnwatch, which has a very broad audience of different ages and with different viewing habits and needs. Friday and Saturday evenings in the autumn schedule are particularly competitive, especially when it comes to finding the best fit for a broad audience, including families who like to watch the show together.
We've been staying in close touch with BBC TWO about this and I'm delighted to say that an earlier slot has also become available on Friday evenings, so the good news is that we will be moving Autumnwatch forward to 8.30pm from Friday 30 October. Autumnwatch Unsprung will start at 9.30pm, so hopefully you'll want to stay with us for Unsprung and still manage to catch the news at 10pm.
We're really honoured to think that so many people care about our show and we are very grateful to our viewers for taking the time to let us know how they feel.
And before you ask ... don't worry, there are currently no plans to change the shape or transmission of Springwatch - the wildlife action at that time of year is much more concentrated into a shorter period and it is still light (and wildlife on our famous hidden cameras is still active) in the evenings - something that has rarely been the case for any Autumnwatch we have made. It is only Autumnwatch that has been re-shaped and re-thought ... for no other reason than to try and bring you the very best wildlife from this autumn and to inspire, encourage and empower you to go out there and enjoy the glories of the UK in autumn for yourself. This is the clear mission and passion of everyone who works on the show.
I hope the new 8.30pm start works for you. My thanks to my friends and colleagues at BBC TWO for listening to you and for making this change half way through the series.
Keep those thoughts and suggestions coming at the bottom of this blog, or on our message board. We are listening, and we're trying to do our best to give everyone what they want.
I hope you are enjoying the series. I personally love the new 8 week spread, because we can bring you so much more wildlife. This is real-life, real-time storytelling - showing you nature as it is, as we see it and as you see it, as it happens. Already we've been able to bring you rutting deer on Rum, Barnacle Geese from Svalbard to the Solway Firth, orchards, hedgehogs and of course this week's killer whales in the North Sea ... and we're only three weeks in. As we always say, its nature that writes the scripts for us, but - weather, technology and Mother Nature permitting - we have a whole load more autumn wildlife treats to bring you before the end of November.
Next stop aerial display teams in Norfolk for Chris and Kate, Simon getting woodsy in the Forest of Dean, the next instalment of Gordon's high seas adventure ... and of course Martin is keeping a close eye on all of the amazing stories, films, photos and questions that you send us as autumn unfurls before us.
Autumn is so much more than a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness .....
AUTUMNWATCH AND SPRINGWATCH
BBC NATURAL HISTORY UNIT