Northern Ireland

BBC NI goes wild for Wild Week Live

Darryl and Donna Wild Week
Image caption Darryl Grimason and Donna Traynor present Wild Week Live on BBC One NI

Had you stepped through the revolving doors of BBC Broadcasting House in Belfast this week, you may have been surprised to walk into the aftermath of a stampede.

The reception desk, the security barriers, even the lifts were teeming with the footprints of wild foul, game and all manner of woodland life.

Granted, on closer inspection they turned out to be stickers, but it could still only mean one thing.

It was the beginning of BBC NI's Wild Week Live, a seven-day celebration of the rich variety of wildlife across Northern Ireland.

We spoke to BBC presenter and wildlife enthusiast Darryl Grimason, to find out what had been getting the BBC's interior decorators into such a flap.

"Over a long time now, people in Northern Ireland have grown away from the land and away from nature," said Darryl.

"Truthfully, we haven't properly celebrated the unique, wonderful, extraordinary nature that surrounds us."

This is precisely what Wild Week Live is all about.

Going wild

So running from Saturday 21 May until Saturday 28 May, BBC NI's radio, television, and now online output is going wild. Raar.

So far we have seen popular BBC Radio Ulster programmes such as Your Place Or Mine and Sounds Classical take on a natural twist. Throughout the rest of the week we can expect Gardener's Corner and Saturday Magazine to follow suit.

However, the flagship programme of the week has been running every night on BBC 1 NI, just after BBC Newsline, at 1900 BST.

Wild Week Live, with Donna Traynor and Darryl Grimason, got off to a stuttering start when the planned broadcast from Rathlin Island had to be abandoned due to miserable weather, but since then it has been running as smoothly as a baby rabbit's bottom.

"The first night we had to cut and run (from Rathlin) and I was actually pulling on my shirt at six minutes to seven," said Darryl.

"It was the most frantic day - honestly mad - but really, really enjoyable."

Since then he has been swimming with basking sharks on the north coast and with giant conger eels in Strangford Lough, and climbing a 100ft oak tree in search of herons.

"It was just such a joy to be out on location. I was in my natural habitat," he joked.

Featuring a host of BBC NI's most well known faces, the programmes have been spending time with seals in Church Bay, catching moths in the north west and chasing urban foxes in Belfast.

Image caption Wild Week Live has been chasing urban foxes in Belfast

But has it all been worth it? Have audiences responded to the wealth of wildlife on offer?

"Northern Ireland is incredibly diverse in terms of landscapes," said Darryl.

"We have world class scenery and tremendous wildlife that's coming here from all over the world.

"There is a definite sense that people are realising that and are prepared to stand up and say 'this is worth celebrating.'"

Wild Week Live runs until Saturday, and there are two more BBC 1 NI programmes to come from Darryl and Donna, including a one-hour special at 1900 BST on Friday.