THE BBC's flagship nature programme saw a rise in its viewing figures as the New Forest's Chris Packham presented it from his home.

A total of 2.6 million viewers watched Winterwatch's series opener on Tuesday, which is up from 1.7 million for the first episode of the 2020 series.

Presenter Packham said the rise in viewing figures has come amid an increase in interest in the natural world as people seek “solace and respite in the simple perfection of nature”.

The first episode of the new series was also watched by more viewers than the series openers of both Springwatch and Autumnwatch last year, which were watched by 2.4 million and 2.1 million people respectively.

While it is not an all-time record for Winterwatch, which launched in 2013, the figure for Tuesday’s episode is also higher than the 2019 total for the series opener of 2.5 million.

Packham, who presented at home from the New Forest,  said: “Nature has never been more important, as more people have reached out, engaged with and embraced it more than ever before.

“This is because our own species has found its own world stressed and threatened and in such desperate times we have found immediate solace and respite in the simple perfection of nature.”