With the BBC's Bristol-based Natural History Unit now in its 47thyear, the city has, for a long time, been in a unique position as acentre for natural history. Therefore, it's definitely not too soonfor a celebration of the pioneering work that has been done withinthe city.
This Saturday (May 31), the BBC are holding their first BristolNatural History Festival at various venues on the harbourside.Thefestival's organiser, Sarah Pitt, who produced Highgrove: A Prince'sLegacy - recently screened on BBC2 - explained the inspiration behindit: "People at the BBC were hearing that Bristolians were proud ofhaving the Natural History Unit here, but were complaining that theydidn't know anything about it. We thought it would be a greatopportunity." The BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol has beenrunning for 46 years, often working alongside the highly respectednatural history and zoological departments at Bristol University.Consequently, they now have a huge library of work and research,which is a massive resource for anyone interested in natural history.
This Saturday's event will be a chance to make use of theseresources and meet some of the producers behind some of the BBC'sgroundbreaking programmes.
"The festival is a bit of an experiment, " Sarah admits."We'venever done it before, so ifpeople do come along we can do it nextyear.Yet, it's a great opportunity to meet the natural history team -they are quite welcome to grab a producer and let them know what theythink." The Watershed is holding various screenings of past BBCprogrammes, plus talks from producers and a chance to meetdocumentary teams.At 1pm cinema 2 will be showing some of the bestmoments from Bill Oddie's Wild In Your Garden series which startedthis week and is filmed in Bristol.The production team will be doinga session as part of the festival talking about their work on theprogramme.
The festival is free, but the Watershed is the only venue where aticket is required for talks where numbers are limited.Tickets willbe available from the Watershed foyer an hour before each talk, andwill be issued on a firstcome, first-served basis.
Talks include Keith Scholey, former head of the Natural HistoryUnit, looking back over nearly 50 years of wildlife television, andthe makers of The Abyss and The Abyss 2 revealing how they filmed inthe depths of the ocean.
Meanwhile, the L-Shed will be providing a more family-orientatedday with a dedicated children's area - face painting, creepycrawliesfrom Bristol Zoo etc - and various exhibits from local wildlifegroups who are continually active in preserving Bristol's naturalwildlife.
At 3.45pm Radio Bristol will be hosting a panel of experts, whowill attempt to answer all of your natural history queries anddilemmas.
If all that isn't enough, the IMAX Theatre will be screening Bugs3D and SOS Planet 3D throughout the day, and the Radio BristolOrchestra will be belting out animal-themed music across MillenniumSquare, from 12noon until 2pm.
Visit www.bbc.co.uk/bristol for a full programme of events, orpick up a leaflet from BBC reception on Whiteladies Road.