From the team at BBC Wildlife Magazine

Who is Michaela Strachan? Everything you need to know about the Springwatch presenter

Naturalist and TV presenter Michaela Strachan is best known for her work on Springwatch, but did you know she once had a career in pop music? Here is everything you need to know about Michaela Strachan.

Published: May 27, 2022 at 6:46 am
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Michaela Strachan is a wildlife presenter appearing regularly as a co-host of Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch (collecting known as ‘The Watches’), alongside Chris Packham, Gillian Burke, Iolo Williams and Megan McCubbin. She is known for her cheerful, enthusiastic presence on the screen.

Who is Michaela Strachan?

Many children of the 1980s will remember Strachan on such programmes as The Wide Awake Club with Timmy Mallet (1985) and, most memorably, The Really Wild Show with Chris Packham and Terry Nutkins (1992). She also had a brief career as a pop singer before becoming a TV presenter.

Strachan was born in 1966 in Ewell in Surrey, and studied musical theatre at the Arts Educational College in London. Her first job was touring in a production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which she followed with a new role on TV co-hosting The Wide Awake Club.

What is Michaela Strachan famous for?

Strachan’s first wildlife presenting job was on OWL TV (Outdoors and Wildlife TV) in 1989, which led to her place alongside Chris Packham, Terry Nutkins, and later Steve Backshall and Nick Baker on The Really Wild Show (1992 – 2006). She presented Countryfile for ten years, but is probably most known now for her role on the Watches.

Where does Michaela Strachan live?

Michael Strachan now lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband, the film director and cameraman Nick Chevallier.


Fun facts about Michaela Strachan

  • Her favourite animal is the African penguin. She told BBC Wildlife in 2021, “I once wrote a poem for a children’s book about them, which started off:‘What is it about penguins that always make you smile?
    Is it the way they waddle in that funny penguin style?’I can’t imagine Cape Town without them.”
  • So iconic was Michaela Strachan on 1980s television that pop group Scouting for girls wrote a song about her called Michaela Strachan Broke My Heart (When I Was 12).
  • Michaela herself had a fleeting career as a pop star with her hit singles H-A-P-P-Y:

and Take Good Care of my Heart.

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  • Michaela is allergic to elephants. She told The Telegraph in 2015: “Orphaned elephants, with their trunks around us, their hairs on us; I don't know what part of the elephant I'm allergic to, but when I'm surrounded by them like that I come out in a rash, my eyes start streaming. But I think I've got a lot better.”
  • In 2002, while filming for Countryfile, Michaela entered the World Gurning Competition at Egremont Crab Fair, a traditional festival on the West Cumbrian coast. She won the Ladies' World Gurning Crown.
  • Because of her musical background, audiences of The Masked Singer believed Michaela to be the 'mushroom' in the 2022 edition of the show. In fact, it was Charlotte Church.

Our interview with Michaela Strachan

Discover more about the Springwatch presenter, in her own words.

1

You actually began your career in children's TV, what prompted the change to presenting natural history programmes?

When I was younger, I was passionate about dance and theatre and after college, I toured with 7 Brides and 7 Brothers. Whilst in the West End, I auditioned for the Wide Awake Club, which I began presenting in 1986. Then a few years later, OWL TV (Outdoors and Wildlife TV) wanted a well-known children presenter.

I always had a love for animals and wildlife, especially animal welfare, although I didn't know much at the time. I was then poached for The Really Wild Show, and the rest is history!

Michaela working on OWL TV. © OWL TV

I use this transition as an example when speaking to children and young people about careers - just because you're not passionate about something at 12, doesn't mean you won't become passionate about it at a later time!

2

You've been presenting the Watches since 2011, what's your favourite thing about the programmes?

I love the unpredictability of the Watches, where nature has written the script. Spineless Si, the three-spined stickleback fish, always comes to mind. A very familiar animal that most people actually don't know much about! We had to bring in fish experts to find out more Si and his behaviour.

3

Are there any questions from the Watches audience that make you laugh?

I am always quite amused by the questions we get asked via Twitter. For the most part, Martin and Chris would be asked the wildlife questions, whereas I would get asked questions about where I got my hat!

I do find it irritating when the press would ask about how I cope with leaving my child for filming programmes, whereas the others would never get asked that.

4

What are your favourite natural history programmes, aside from the Watches?

Although I enjoy the big wildlife series such as Blue Planet II and Dynasties, I prefer the natural history programmes which also include people.

That's also been the case for the wildlife programmes I've presented, such as Wildlife Rescue, Saving Planet Earth UK and Animal Rescue Squad. I've met some amazing people around the world who are helping wildlife.

Michaela Strachan on The Really Wild Show
5

If you could recommend one UK wildlife spectacle for people to see, which would it be?

Definitely starling murmurations. They're so accessible and in so many places around the country, including cities. They are free, absolutely beautiful and every night is different. They will wow people of any age and wildlife-watching experience.

The most memorable starling murmuration I've seen was at sunset, when we were filming in Poole Harbour in Dorset. The light was stunning, and the birds were forming incredible patterns in the sky.

6

Do you have a favourite British species?

Definitely puffins - they have a sensible side, but they are also flashy. I love wildlife with a bit of character.

I love golden eagles, and after Spineless Si, stickleback fish!

7

If you were an animal, which one would you like to be?

It has to be a dolphin, I love them! They make people smile, and I would like to be an animal that does that.

Plus they have the ocean as their playground! They always look like they are having a great time!

8

What species would you most like to see?

I've been lucky to see a lot of wild animals, but top of my bucket list would be the blue whale! One day we will get out to Baja California to see them.

I would also like to go back to the amazing places I've been and introduce my son to them and the wildlife there. Although wildlife isn't his main passion, he does love it.

Michaela Strachan on safari with her family.
9

Do you have a favourite book?

Born Free influenced me the most as a child. I always wanted to grow up to be Joy, and it gave me a love for Kenya and African wildlife. Although I didn't grow up to be exactly like Joy, I've certainly cuddled and seen a lot of animals!

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I love fiction, and using reading to escape. I've just finished the Langani trilogy by Barbara Keating. It's about three girls from very different backgrounds at boarding school together in Kenya. They become friends, and the trilogy follows their lives. I'm currently reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, which is beautifully written but not much happens in it (so far).

Authors

Megan ShersbyEditorial and digital co-ordinator at BBC Wildlife Magazine, and countryfile.com
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