Off the box: TV presenters go wild to get viewers out of the house

Gouthwaite Reservoir, Nidderdale.  'Picture by Bruce Rollinson
Gouthwaite Reservoir, Nidderdale. 'Picture by Bruce Rollinson
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THEY may not listen to anyone else but young people, it seems, will still take notice of someone on TV.

So in an era in which playing Sonic the Hedgehog on a video console is a substitute for interacting with one of the declining numbers of the actual creatures, presenters are having to extend their reach beyond the screen.

Lindsey Chapman

Lindsey Chapman

A raft of new initiatives to encourage children and their parents off the couch and out of the house saw two of Yorkshire’s best-known outdoors activists playing Pied Piper yesterday.

Lindsey Chapman, a presenter on the BBC’s Springwatch programme, said she hoped that by becoming a patron of The Wild Watch, a volunteering programme in the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, she was “giving permission” to people to take an interest in the wildlife in their back yards.

She said: “They are more likely to see a blue tit than a golden eagle, but those connections are really important.”

And Andrew White, one of the patrons of an Ordnance Survey project to help make Britain “more outdoorsy and adventurous”, said that with one child in 10 not having set foot in a park, let alone a forest or beach in the last year, the need for fresh air had never been greater.

Andrew White

Andrew White

“Around 20 per cent of children are obese by the time they reach year six in school, and the average child checks their mobile phone 90 tines a day. All of these things are connected,” said Mr White, whose series, Walks Around Britain, is on Amazon Prime.

“Part of the problem is that for years, the outdoor industry has been concentrated on big walks in the Dales or the Lake District, and a lot of people think to themselves, ‘If that’s what walking is, I’m not interested’. It puts people off.

“I want to encourage people to do walks of two to eight miles. Even if they don’t have great views, they will tell stories of the landscape or the towns they go through.”

He added: “If we all did a four-mile walk every week, we’d save the NHS millions and reduce our chances of diabetes and heart attack – all linked to a lack of mobility.”

Mr White, who is from Doncaster, is among 60 “champions” of the Ordinance Survey’s Get Outside campaign. The list is headed by the TV presenter and adventurer, Ben Fogle, who said it was important to “make the outdoors enjoyable, accessible and safe”.

Ms Chapman, who is from Beverley and is among the hosts of tomorrow’s Lush environmental conference, being broadcast from London, said the Nidderdale volunteer programme would “empower people to do something that will benefit them”.

She added: “Going for a walk gives your brain something else to think about, your eyes something to feast on and your soul a bit of inspiration – whether it’s an area of outstanding natural beauty or just a park.

“You will get more back than you put in. Volunteering is just like that.”