Chris Packham has challenged Sir David Attenborough in a bid to become the BBC Natural History Unit’s alpha male.
In a display that witnesses have described as “exhilarating”, “majestic” and “inexplicably arousing”, the wildlife gurus publicly locked horns yesterday, as the younger man attempted to dethrone his long-term mentor and colleague.
A bare-chested Packham is reported to have entered the grounds of Bristol’s Broadcasting House at around 9am, bellowing the veteran broadcaster’s name and demanding that he relinquish his role as the BBC’s premier naturalist. Attenborough, who was visiting the Unit to discuss the upcoming Blue Planet sequel, is said to have ignored Packham at first but quickly became riled when the Springwatch presenter began to spray urine and faeces over his private parking space.
Packham, resplendent in a cape made from kingfisher feathers and butterfly wings, caught the eye of several young researchers, one of whom told us, “It was only a matter of time before Chris decided to assert his dominance. He recently beat Steve Backshall in a no-holds-barred game of small mammal top trumps, which is no mean feat.
“Backshall’s a gritty street naturalist – he once put Nick Baker into a coma during an unsanctioned game of Name That Bird Call – so Chris saw it as a sign that he was ready for the top spot.”
After joining Packham in the car park, Attenborough dazzled onlookers by removing his shirt to reveal a torso endowed with iridescent chest hairs, intertwined with feathers from all 39 species of Bird-of-Paradise. The two men are said to have spent over 10 hours strutting in parallel around the building, puffing out their chests and roaring obscure wildlife facts at each other in an attempt to intimidate their rival into submission.
One BBC cameraman, who managed to capture the incident on film, told the Herald that such displays were rare and had always resulted in failure for the challenger.
“The last person to have a serious crack was Terry Nutkins, back in 1991, and he lost two fingers in the process,” he said. “Terry used to tell people that they were bitten off by an otter but everyone knows that Sir David took them as a warning to others.
“Rumour has it he turned them into a pair of earrings and made Michaela Strachan wear them to the Christmas party that year, just to make sure everybody else got the message.”
Yesterday’s challenge also ended in an Attenborough victory, the 91 year-old eventually scaring off his younger opponent by inflating a large red throat sack and charging at him with his hackles raised. The defeated Packham retreated to the safety of the Broadcasting House canteen, his cape in tatters but his reputation still largely intact.
Footage of the encounter will be broadcast in a Natural World special on BBC 2 this coming Sunday. Possibly.