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Baker's Dozen

Natural Rhythm: Chris Packham's Favourite Albums
Luke Turner , July 4th, 2012 05:22

Broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham talks Luke Turner through his favourite albums... includes punk rock riot, hitchhiking, and singing poodles

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Chris Packham was a familiar figure to any child of the late 80s and early 90s as one of the three presenters of the brilliant Really Wild Show, one of those rare kids programmes that managed to keep the perfect balance between entertainment and education. Since then, of course, Packham has moved on to helm the BBC's Springwatch series, where he's become notorious for shoehorning song titles by some of his favourite bands into the script. Obviously a serious music lover, he seemed like the perfect candidate for a Baker's Dozen. We catch him hours before flying off to Greenland to film a new BBC series called Operation Iceberg, a programme that'll look at "the narrative is the life history of an iceberg, which starts as snow at the top of a glacier, then ends melting somewhere in the Atlantic" to air on the broadcaster this autumn.

Back in the day, presenting The Really Wild Show alongside the very prog-looking Terry Nutkins, Packham cut quite a dash with his tight short back and sides, and bleached blond on top. I remember when first encountering a picture of Depeche Mode and thinking 'that Martin Gore has a proper Chris Packham, hair do'.

"My hair used to change colour all the time, when it got to Really Wild Show it stayed blonde for quite a long time," Packham says. "Before that it was all sorts of crazy colours. When I was 15 or 16 it started, with the punk thing, which has been and remains an instrumental and formative part of my life. The whole attitude of do it yourself, get out there, work hard and get yourself a place on the poster. That was something I've stuck to. A lot of the punk anthems have remained mantras for my life. If I get really down and I think I'm not getting anywhere then a good dose of 'Shout Above The Noise' by Penetration normally brings me back."

As well as the records, Packham was an avid gig-goer back in the day. As he'll go on to tell us, he'd often be found hitch-hiking from rare bird spotting to punk gigs, where he'd get properly stuck in. "I remember a few gigs when things turned nasty," he says. "I remember a Crass gig which got invaded by skinheads and turned very nasty. I went to see Sham 69, one of their last gigs, and that turned into a riot, a nasty riot. The gigs were rough and ready, but if you were right at the front, pressed against the stage, then it was all happening behind you."

As far as his Baker's Dozen goes, Packham explains his choices thus: "I thought I'd pick the albums that were the ones I played completely. It'd have been tempting to pick more than one of the Jesus & Mary Chain because they were my favourites, but I've stuck to one of each." Click the image below to begin the countdown. Chris Packham's Secrets Of Our Living Planet is on BBC Two this Sunday, July 8th at 8pm.


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Jul 4, 2012 10:51am

Superb stuff. Those Springwatch song references in full:

The Smiths -
The Cure -
The Manics -

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Jul 4, 2012 11:42am

You see the headline and think "Chris Packham? Chris bloody Packham?!". Then you read his choices and not only is every single one of them is in your collection but he talks about them the same way you do to your mates, comfortable enough loving a band or album to be able to slag them off with a smile for other reasons too. Daft as it sounds, and it sadly does, I'd be curious what Michaela Strachan listens to. Didn't think I'd be wondering that!

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Jul 4, 2012 12:13pm

Bless'im. Didn't realise quite what an excellent fellow he is until he appeared on room 101 recently and chose humans in general, Chris Moyles (“One badly damaged marmoset typing on a speak-and-spell machine would produce his average show”),living statues and publicly displayed childrens drawings to go in.
Its very funny and still on Iplayer - go see. Chap!

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Jul 4, 2012 1:15pm

After Packham's MSP lyric-dropping on Springwatch I'm surprised there's no Manics on there. Great to see Sugar getting a nod - Copper Blue is a little gem.

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Ian DJ
Jul 4, 2012 4:29pm

The stuff about 'Pure' is genuinely lovely.

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Jul 4, 2012 5:38pm

Utterly awesome that he has Kitchens of Distinction on there. One of the greatest most underrated bands of all time.

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Tony V
Jul 5, 2012 8:57am

He mentioned "Fad Gadget" twice in one program while holding a Badger. Name one person working in TV in 2012 who could do that !

Great Selection.

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Jul 5, 2012 2:17pm

Damn straight Packham, Pure is one of the best pop songs ever written

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Jul 6, 2012 10:47am

That song Chris mentions by The Boys (in the Ramones "It's Alive" entry) is actually called "Brickfield Nights". I chuckled when I read "Brick Filled Nights". Good bad too - emerged out of proto punk faves The Hollywood Brats.

Thanks for this article. Enjoyed reading Chris's thoughts.

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Jul 6, 2012 12:41pm

Great choices, he must be roughly the same age as me as they all chimed. Shame he spoiled it at the end with the Lightning Seeds, never got them but very nice to see KOD in there...always underrated.

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Fat Latch
Jul 6, 2012 2:00pm

shame about a few of those choices (it's all about personal choice, i know...), because i knew Packham was a decnt chap, but...'Screamadelica'...??? THE most over-rated LP ever released...god, what a load of pretentious wank Primal Scream are...meh...

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Jul 6, 2012 6:53pm

Fanfuckingtastic! Chris Packham - you, Sir, are an absolute gem of a man!

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Jul 13, 2012 8:11pm

Pretty average run of the mill indie selection from around 1992,probably a list i would have compiled when i was 21 with the inclusion of say the House of Love,Sundays,Pavement usual crap but not now and certainly not 50 plus years old

Very disappointed to see the most overrated pub rock band The Clash in this list,as for fucking Primal scream and the Lightening seeds? please

But packham is right about humanity,room 101 for the fucking lot,animals all the way

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Jul 22, 2012 7:13am

I used to have a Massive schoolgirl crush on cp in the eighties, I love his passion & compassion for the natural world, seems he has decent taste in music too (knew he would be a Smiths bod :)The photo of him and Tyto Alba is beautiful, as a Pom living in oz I will be downloading his new series.

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Denver Wedding Catering
Apr 10, 2013 8:29am

I remember when first encountering a picture of Depeche Mode and thinking 'that Martin Gore has a proper Chris Packham, hair do'Denver Wedding Catering

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