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Damned Autumnwatch

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Chris Packham Chris Packham | 11:38 UK time, Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Damned were one of the first punk bands I saw live back in 1977. It was an extraordinary gig with Captain Sensible, Dave Vanian, Brian James and Rat Scabies living up to their imaginative names with a loud rollercoaster of songs and theatrical antics. Whilst Vanian has remained true to his 'Elvis Vampire' stage persona the Captain has entertained me over the years clad in a tutu, pink fur and nothing at all.

Every Damned show I've ever seen (and there have been many) has been hugely enjoyable, often a cabaret of lunacy set to one of the most exciting set of songs ever played. I've been lucky enough to meet the band several times over the years and jolly nice blokes they are too, not something that be said of all my punk rock idols!

Chris Packham in 1983

Me in 1983, in my post-punk days.

So when people started asking which song titles I might try to weave into this year's shows I thought... The Damned!

I got off to an early start by welcoming Micheala as a 'New Rose', unfairly but predictably described the lesser horseshoe bats as 'Grimly Fiendish', described the modelling clay facsimile of their noses as 'Neat, Neat, Neat' and pertinently saw wild boar 'Smash it Up'.

In programme two I said Spurn Point was home to one the best birds in 'The History of the World', the Atlantic salmon allowed a very easy 'Fish' and, of course, I've always been a member of the sparrowhawk 'Fan Club'.

In week three I wondered whether we'd 'See Her Tonight' (a badger that is), foraging is never 'Hit or Miss' a late suckling red deer calf was a 'Problem Child' and rutting fallow deer were in a state of 'Psychomania'. Pretty fair given their passionate energies at this time.

In our fourth show I asked Martin if he was more of a 'Disco Man' than a fan of 5th Dimension and requested that people should not employ 'Machine Gun Etiquette' when going out to observe deer.

Thirteen so far, more to come...

Update 25 November

Programme five had barnacle geese who made 'Noise, Noise, Noise'. We had to 'Creep' up on them. Then sparrowhawks were 'Born to Kill', our clever cameramen pulled some magic out of the hat that wasn't a 'White Rabbit', Martin was 'So Messed Up' over his opinion of waterfowl, we were waiting for a predators 'Shadow to Fall' and, most dubiously, Bewick's swans were not in 'Wait for the Blackout' but a whiteout during the weather forecast analysis.

My best link in programme six was not only tenuous but a 'Stretcher Case'. 'Baby' swans followed to complete the title and confuse Michaela. We could all genuinely 'Feel the Pain' of the gannet ensnared in fishing net and 'Don't Cry Wolf' and 'Twisted Nerve' flowed into the fox aggression chat. 'I Just Can't Be Happy Today' described my dismay at the weather, a waxwing was the object of 'My Desire' and turnstones were a bit of a 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' bird .

'1 of the 2' kicked off in seven and 'Don't Trouble Trouble' and 'Tightrope Walk' again slipped in nicely whist discussing the fox fight. 'Melody Lee' was sadly only a fictitious Twitter name for a question for Roy Dennis and once again the uninspiring weather in terms of migration was there to 'Torture Me'.

Thirty two titles in seven, so one more to go with some really tricky titles to weave in... 'Anti Pope', 'Plan Nine', 'Channel Seven' and 'Jet Boy, Jet Girl'. Oooh, there's a challenge!

These legends are now on a 35th Anniversary tour with Stuart West, Monty Oxymoron and Pinch with UK dates between the 9th and 20th of November. I wouldn't miss it if I were you!

Editor's note: See how skilfully Chris wove Manic Street Preacher song titles into this year's Springwatch. So well, in fact, that it was picked up by the NME, the Mail and the Telegraph among others.



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