Profile: Bill Oddie
Bill Oddie was born on 7th July 1941 in Rochdale and brought up in Birmingham. As well as arguably being Britain’s best-known bird watcher he is also an actor, comedian, author, artist and musician who first rose to fame as a member of The Goodies. He is probably now best known for being a television presenter and fronted the BBC’s popular wildlife series, Autumnwatch and Springwatch.
Bill appeared in several Cambridge Footlights productions including Cambridge Circus which transferred to the West End, eventually ending up on Broadway. While at university he wrote a number of scripts for TV and although he originally planned to be an English teacher or bird warden on leaving Cambridge he ended up in Showbiz where he has remained every since.
Since then he has written and presented hundreds of TV and radio programmes such as I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again, Ask Oddie, Broaden Your Mind as well as wildlife programmes including Bill Oddie goes Wild, Britain Goes Wild, Birding with Bill Oddie, Bird in the Nest, Oddie in Paradise, The Great Kenyan Bird Safari, Favourite Walks, Wild Weekends, The Bird Business, and How to Watch Wildlife.
Bill is married to Laura Beaumont and together have worked on a variety of projects including film scripts, books, puppet shows, drama and comedy series. Bill has also written a number of bird books including Bill Oddie’s Little Black Bird Book, Gone Birding, and Birdwatching with Bill Oddie which he illustrated with his own drawings. He also writes for a number of specialist birding magazines.
Bill Oddie has suffered from depression for most of his life and was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2001. He has admitted to severe bouts of depression every two or three years and sometimes goes into hospital to take a break.
In the 1960s and 70s Bill Oddie released a number of singles and an album – his first singles were in fact produced by George Martin and he had two singles banned by the BBC. He still likes to play the drums, saxophone and percussion and in 2007 appeared in the BBC series, Play It Again, leaning to play the electric guitar coached by, amongst others, Mark Knopfler.
In 2003 Bill Oddie was awarded the OBE for his work in wildlife conservation. He is an active conservationist representing organisations such as the WWF, Friends Of The Earth, the RSPB and Birdlife International.
Bill Oddie published his autobiography One Flew Into The Cuckoo’s Egg in 2008.