If it seems that every man and his dog has a podcast these days you wouldn’t be far wrong – in fact more than a few podcasts really do feature both a man and his dog. But while true crime, sport and comedy usually top the charts, those about nature and the environment tend to get less attention.
David Oakes, a British actor most well-known for aristocratic roles in films such as The White Queen and Victoria (he is currently playing Hamlet at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre) is seeking to redress the balance. A passionate advocate for the natural world he indulges this passion each week through interviews with artists, scientists and fellow enthusiasts, focusing on the ways in which the countryside has inspired their careers. Previous guests have included artist Mark Frith, wildlife photographer David Fettes, animator Astrid Goldsmith, fossil collector Dr Steve Etches, Natural History Museum ecologist Dr Ellinor Michel and animal welfare scientist Dr Fay Clark.
The next episode which, airs on Monday 15 July, features an in-depth but informal chat with Beccy Speight, CEO of the Woodland Trust. Over 45 minutes the pair meander through Speight’s career working at the Woodland Trust, at the National Trust prior to that and in local government in Scotland. On the way they cover all sorts, be it Thatcher’s legacy in Grantham where the Trust is headquartered, tips about the best nature books and what it means to grow-up in and feel an affinity for the countryside. Speight also talks through some of the Woodland Trust’s key projects, including the campaign to get legal protection for ancient woodland, around half of which has been lost in the last 50 years, and the plan to plant 50 million trees between Liverpool and Hull over the next 25 years, creating a new ‘Northern Forest’.
In a world of high-energy, jingle-ridden podcasts and antagonistic radio shows Trees a Crowd makes for a pleasantly gentle listen. Both nostalgic and forward looking it covers some of the biggest issues facing the natural world through the medium of relaxed, informal conversation.
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