I was born on 7th April 1966 in Surrey. My passion as a child was dancing and musicals. I went to a local dancing school and did ballet, tap, modern dance, acrobatics, singing and drama. I did all the competitions and exams and my dream was to perform in the theatre. I pursued this dream by doing a musical theatre course at the Arts Educational College in London.I left in 1985 and toured in the musical ‘7 Brides For 7 Brothers’ ending up a year later in the West End Of London at the Prince Of Wales theatre. This is not the childhood most people expect of a wildlife presenter! Although my passion was performing, I loved animals. I’ve never been the twitcher type and I’ve never had an academic wildlife background but I’ve always had compassion for animals and even as a child seemed to have opinions about animal welfare and cruelty.
Early TV Career
After 7 Brides I got my first presenting job on ‘The Wide Awake Club’, a popular Saturday morning show on TVam with Timmy Mallett and Tommy Boyd. At the time, 1986, there were only 3 channels, so if you were watching TV at 7.30 on a Saturday morning, you were watching us! The Wide Awake Club was on every weekend and so I got established very quickly. The rest, as they say, is history……..and this is where the rambling biog starts!
1986 – 1990
‘The Wide Awake Club’
This was a Saturday morning show for TVam. I presented it mainly with Timmy Mallett and Tommy Boyd, also James Baker and Arabella Warner. Lots of fun, games, sketches, bands, stories, cartoons.
WACADAY was the weekday holiday version with Timmy Mallet. Both these shows were hugely popular and have become part of the history of Children’s 80s telly. ‘WAC Extra’ was the Sunday version of The Wide Awake Club.
‘MICHAELA ON SUNDAY’
This was a Sunday morning show for very young kids with lots of singing, dancing, children’s pictures and guest animals.
The latter version of ‘THE WIDE AWAKE CLUB’ which I presented with Tommy Boyd and then Mike Brosnan.
I did a short stint as a VJ, video jockey, on Boogie Box for The Music Box Channel.
1988 – 1992
‘THE HITMAN AND HER’
This was a late night music show with Pete Waterman. It became very cult. We used to descend on nightclubs throughout Britain, mainly focusing on the North of England, we filmed bands, competitions, interviews, punters and lots of 80s style music and dancing. It really captured club culture from the late 80s early 90s and was, at the time, the longest running night time show.
‘BUT CAN YOU DO IT ON TV’
This was a kids talent show, perhaps one of the forerunners of Britain’s Got Talent!!
1989 – 1992
This was my first experience of presenting wildlife programmes. It was a children’s series and it stood for ‘Outdoors and WildLife’. It was this that kickstarted my career as a wildlife presenter.
This was for BSkyB. It was a programme for teenagers and went out live on Saturday afternoons and pre-recorded for Sundays. We tackled all sorts of issues from anorexia and diabetes to bullying. I presented it with Simon Davies, Emma Steele and Violet Berlin.
1991 and 1993
This was a team celebrity challenge show for kids. We went off in our Go Getters vehicles and had to compete against 2 other teams with challenges as diverse as ‘Take a Photo as deep as you dare’ to ‘Perform an unusual ballet’.
A ‘what’s on’ for kids in the summer holidays in the central region. I presented it with Tommy Boyd and it was inspired by my blue convertible beetle which unfortunately kept breaking down during filming.
‘THE REALLY WILD SHOW’
This was my move from ITV to the BBC and the start of what has become my passion. The RWS was a kids wildlife programme and I presented it for 15 years. I started with Chris Packham and Terry Nutkins, then worked my way through Howie Watkins, Janice Acquah, Dominic Wood, Eils Hewitt, Nick Baker and Steve Backshall. I absolutely loved working on the series and got to travel all over the world. In fact I managed to tick off all 7 continents in 6 months one year. Towards the end of the RWS, my role was presenting animal issues, anything from shark finning to the bushmeat trade to circus animals. We filmed many specials including one about the Chinese bear bile industry. It was a brave subject for a children’s audience and it won many awards. The series also won the Children’s Choice Award at Wildscreen in 2004.
This was for The Children’s Channel. We went around the UK looking at fun things for kids to do.
Also for the Children’s Channel. It was a live children’s programme in the summer holidays.
‘ELECTRIC STRING VEST’
Another Children’s Channel series presented with Gia Milinovich. It was a sort of ‘Hitman and Her’ for children! All studio based. A live music show with bands, games, dancing and discussions.
1994 – 1996
‘THE REALLY WILD GUIDE TO BRITAIN’
This was an extension of the Really Wild Show. I presented it with Howie Watkins, Nick Baker, Chris Packham and Janice Acquah and we showed kids where to go to see wildlife in the UK.
1994 – 1997
This was for the BBC. It went out 4 times a year and was a programme that featured Disney clips. Each show was themed and always seemed to involve a lot of dressing up!! A lot of shows were from one of the Disney theme parks but others were from Virginia, Norway, France, the UK.
This was for The Children’s Channel and was a daily live show in the Summer holidays from Alton Towers. I presented it with Tommy Boyd. Lots of fun, games, music, puppets, bands.
I only did a couple of these. It was a science programme for kids.
‘THE WILDSCREEN AWARDS’
I presented these with Howard Stableford. They are the awards given out to the wildlife film making industry.
1997 – 1999
This was for BBC2 and linked together other wildlife programmes. I was one of many presenters who did Animal Zone and only did a few.
This was for Anglia Television and featured wildlife rescue projects in the Anglia region from natterjack toads to badgers.
This was something a bit different! It was a vegetarian cookery show for Granada Food. I hosted it and chefs came in to do their bit. It was great, I learnt a lot about cooking!
‘THE FOSSIL ROADSHOW’
Looks like 1998 was a busy year! This was a one off live show with Peter Snow from the Natural History Museum. It was all about fossils and similar to the Antiques Roadshow but people brought in their fossils instead of antiques.
This was a documentary for the BBC following the rescue of orangutans in Borneo after the fires.
1998 – 1999
‘CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET’
This was such a fun series for HTV. Kids told us a secret desire of their mothers, brothers, grannies, etc. and then we’d arrange for that person to do it. A sort of ‘Jim’ll fix it’ but on a budget!
A BBC documentary about sharks. I’m a big fan of sharks and during the series managed to go cage diving with great whites and dive with Hammerheads and Zambezi Bull Sharks.
1999 – 2009
I was a regular on Countryfile for the BBC for 10 years covering stories as varied as waste management to the Cheese Rolling Festival in Gloucestershire to the Egremont Crab Fair where I won the title of ‘Female World Gurning Champion 2002’. Countryfile is a weekly programme about the British countryside looking at farming issues, outdoor pursuits, wildlife and the Great British countryside.
‘POSTCARDS FROM THE WILD’
This was for Animal Planet and I presented it with Chris Packham. We travelled around the world as tourists having amazing wildlife adventures.
2000 and 2001
‘ADOPT A WILD ANIMAL’
This was a weekend special for Discovery and Animal Planet featuring endangered animals and encouraging viewers to adopt animals through charities and raise money for projects.
‘BIG 5 LITTLE 5’
This was also for Animal Planet and with Chris Packham. I went in search of the Big 5 in South Africa, lion, buffalo, leopards, rhino, elephant whilst Chris went in search of the equivalent little 5, ant lion, buffalo weaver bird, leopard tortoise, rhino beetle, elephant shrew.
This was a gardening show. I presented it with Toby Buckland. We only made four of them. It looked at inspirational and beautiful gardens in the Meridian region.
2003 – 2006
‘MICHAELA’S WILD CHALLENGE’
This award winning series was a children’s wildlife programme for Ch.5 where I got challenged to do crazy things with animals from ‘serving lunch to some hungry sharks underwater’ to ‘getting a kiss off a hummingbird’ to ‘getting my teeth cleaned underwater by a fish’ to ‘outspitting a spitting cobra’! It was my own show for 2 years and then, due to pregnancy, I was joined by Jamie Crawford and Ellie Harrison. The show won 2 BAFTAS. One for best children’s factual programme and I won ‘Best Children’s Presenter’. Something I must admit to being really proud of.
2006 – 2007
I presented 2 series of the award winning ‘Elephant Diaries’ for the BBC. My co-presenter was Jonathan Scott. We followed the work of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which rescues, rehabilitates and eventually releases orphaned elephants back into the wild.
2006 and 2008
Also for the BBC. We made 2 series and I presented with Steve Leonard. It was an emotional series focussing on the work of ‘The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation’ who rescue, rehabilitate and release orangutans back into the wild.
‘SAVING PLANET EARTH UK’
This was a series I fronted looking at wildlife projects in the UK. I also participated in a celebrity relay marathon to raise funds.
This was for ‘Nat Geo Wild’ It was an incredibly ambitious series filmed live from the Kruger National Park in SA. We did 2 x two hour shows a day for 7 days and took viewers on a live safari. I presented it with John Varty and Andy Coetzee.
2007 – 2008
‘ANIMAL RESCUE SQUAD’
This was for Ch.5 and we did over 30 episodes. Matt Baker also presented the series. I got to travel around America and South Africa filming people who rescue animals.
‘MICHAELA’S ZOO BABIES’
Also for Ch.5. This series looked at the flirtations, mating, pregnancies, births and babies of animals in zoos around the UK.
‘MICHAELA’S ANIMAL ROADTRIP’
Another Ch.5 series where I travelled around the UK looking at the work of zoos and rescue centres.
Another animal show for Ch.5 but for pre-school children.
I did the celebrity version. It’s filmed in Buenos Aries and was a real hoot! I made it to the round before the final and no….I didn’t make it across the red balls but I did survive the soccer punch!
‘SOUTH AFRICA’S MOST ENDANGERED’
This was a show I fronted for NHU South Africa. It looked at endangered animals and plants and focussed on the work of people who were trying to save them.
‘GREAT BRITISH GHOSTS’
From wildlife to the paranormal! We discovered various haunted places, not doing a ghost hunt but finding out about the history of the place and matching it to the ghost stories. We made 2 series for UK TV’s Yesterday channel. It was a lot of fun and I slept in many haunted bedrooms. So did I have any wild paranormal experiences myself? Sadly not!
‘SPRINGWATCH’, ‘AUTUMNWATCH’ AND ‘WINTERWATCH’
In 2011 I joined the presenting team with Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games for Autumnwatch, Winterwatch and Springwatch. These are live series for BBC2 and look at British wildlife in the Spring, Autumn and Winter. For Springwatch, we feature, in particular, the struggle for survival of many species of newly hatched chicks.
For AW 2018 we broke the mould and went to New England in America to see the spectacle of the autumn fall and some of the amazing wildlife, from bald eagles to bears, beavers to bobcats.
Martin Hughes- Games left the Watches in 2018 and the core presenting team is now myself, Chris, Iolo Williams, Gillian Burke and Megan McCubbin.
For the last year our base has been Wild Ken Hill in Norfolk.
One Man And His Dog
I feel as if this is a bit of a badge of honour with the BBC! It’s a show that’s been going since 1976 and is a sheepdog trials competition. This year they did the finals live! I presented with Matt Baker. The hardest part was trying to decipher what the Welsh and Scottish farmers were saying!
The Great Penguin Rescue
African penguin numbers are dropping dramatically and my partner Nick and I made this series with the NHU South Africa to highlight the situation. I became a volunteer for SANCCOB, a sea bird rescue centre in Cape Town, during their penguin chick bolstering project when they rescue and rehabilitate orphaned chicks, ultimately be released back into the wild. The series went out on UK TV’s Eden channel. I smelled of fish and got pecked by lots of penguins and have the scars to prove it!
This was a crazy celebrity diving show with Tom Daley. I was one of 20 celebrities who tried to master the art of diving off high diving boards. I got through to the semi finals and managed an inward pike off the 7.5m board and a one and a half somersault off the 3m springboard! My back, shoulders and neck have never been the same since! It was fun but such hard work especially as I don’t like heights!
Big Star Little Star
This is a game show for ITV with children revealing all about their celebrity parents. My son Ollie was very pleased to win the show donating our £12,000 to snow leopard conservation through the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. It’s his favourite animal.
Springwatch in Japan
This was a Springwatch special on the cherry blossom festival in Japan. Chris Packham, James Wong and myself went to Tokyo and Kyoto to enjoy the pink and the celebrations as spring comes into blossom’
Old Mout Cider’s Save The Kiwi Campaign
For 2 years I’ve worked with Old Mout Cider on their campaign to save the highly endangered kiwi bird from extinction in New Zealand. The campaign has worked with the charity Kiwis For Kiwi and supported New Zealand’s ambitious plan to save the national icon by creating predator free islands. I went out to NZ twice to film the project and get to know and love these amazing little birds.
Walking With Dinosaurs The Arena Spectacular
In 2018 I had the exciting opportunity to play the role of ‘Huxley’ the palaeontologist in ‘WALKING WITH DINOSOURS – THE ARENA SPECTACULAR’. We toured 12 arenas; Newcastle, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield, The London O2, Leeds, Glasgow, Belfast, Dublin and Wembley. My co-stars were life sized animatronic dinosaurs. They were truly spectacular and incredibly life like and yes, I was completely upstaged by them! It was an amazing show and it was fantastic to be part of it.
ITV Daytime Competitions
I have been the guest presenter on a few of these now, filming at Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa with Andi Peters, Lapland for the Christmas giveaway and recently in Cape Town giving away £90,000 and a new Audi. Not personally I might add but on behalf of ITV!
Chris and Michaela Under The Christmas Sky
This was a charming Christmas special for the BBC with myself and Chris Packham. We filmed in Jordan, Tenerife and Norway looking at 3 night time spectacles; the conjunction of the 2 planets, Mars and Jupiter, the Geminid meteor shower and the Northern Lights, meeting people and wildlife on the way. There was a lot of humour mixed with the facts and science!
All Stars Musicals
This was a celebrity musicals reality show for ITV. Six celebrities had to perform a song from a musical. I chose to tap dance, which I hadn’t done for 30 odd years! Surrounded by 12 tappers I performed 42nd Street and swapped the usual outdoor gear for something a little more sparkly!
Meet South Africa
My partner Nick Chevallier and I produced and filmed 5 videos for online content for SA Tourism UK showcasing Cape Town, The West Coast and Winelands, The Garden Route, KZN and the North Coast, Johannesburg and Madikwe. We had the most amazing time travelling around SA showing off this beautiful country. Bit of a dream project!
Extreme Conservation: The Maldives
This was for BBC World and looked at the extreme measures the Maldives is embracing to protect their islands from the effects of climate change. From coral reef restoration and 3D coral printing to using sand bags and scientific technology to create new islands.
Extreme Conservation: Turkey
In Turkey we focussed on passionate people working tirelessly to save precious pine forests and preserve bees in Datcha and Brown Bear popultaions in Kars.
Digging for Treasure
This was a Ch.5, 4 part series with Dan Walker and Raksha Dave. We worked with a team of detectorists, mudlarkers, scubatectors, archaeologists and experts from the British Museum to unearth hidden histories and stories from our past. From Roman coins to Edwardian jewellery, Tudor shoes to the remains of a WW2 Lancaster Bomber and an American tank!
Swimming in Sewage: Britain’s Water Scandal
This was my shit show, literally! A Ch.5 documentary about the shocking reality of sewage in our rivers. Sewage, toxic waste and wet wipes. It included Wet Wipe Island, an island the size of 2 tennis courts, made up of wet wipes, right by Hammersmith Bridge in the Thames in London.
I was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Wolverhampton. For a girl who left school at 16, this was a big deal for me. Felt very surreal and like a scene from Harry Potter!
The Watches are still going strong! I joined the team in 2011 (see above) and still love doing this flagship, BAFTA award winning series.
- 1986 Cinderella in Colchester, chorus
- 1987 Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz, Horsham
- 1988 Aladdin in Aladdin, Guildford
- 1991 Cinderella in Cinderella, Richmond
- 1992 Goldilocks in Goldilocks and The Three Bears, Wimbledon
- 1993 Peter Pan in Peter Pan, Reading also Goldilocks in Goldilocks and the three Bears, Leeds
- 1994 Peter Pan in Peter Pan, Richmond
- 1995 Peter Pan in Peter Pan, Southend also Princess in Jack and The Beanstalk, Birmingham
- 1996 Peter Pan in Peter Pan, Wolverhampton
- 1997 Peter Pan in Peter Pan, Swansea
- 1998 Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz, Reading
- 1999 Peter Pan in Pater Pan, Bristol
- 2001 Peter Pan in Peter Pan, Brighton
- 2002 Peter Pan in Peter Pan, Plymouth
‘Oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is!! I have done 16 pantos over the years. I guess those early days of training for the theatre didn’t go to waste after all.
2013 ‘Michaela Strachan’s Really Wild Adventures’ tour
This was a one woman theatre show adapted from my book ‘Michaela Strachan’s Really Wild Adventures’. It was directed by Malachi Bogdanov and we toured 23 theatres during the Feb and Easter school holidays. It was full of fun, facts, humour, music, audience interaction and energy. We also adapted the show to do it as a scaled down version for events, wildlife parks and zoos.
This was a pop single released on London Records. It only got to no 62 in the charts!
‘TAKE GOOD CARE OF MY HEART’
This one only got to 66. That was the end to my glittering pop career! I also contributed to a couple of albums. ‘All Time Children’s Favourites’ where I sang ‘Tweetie Pie’ and ‘If I See An Elephant Fly’ I also sang as Sandy on a Grease Album. And of course I have a song written about me by the band ‘Scouting For Girls’ called ‘Michaela Strachan Broke My Heart’. I was hugely flattered. All these you can check out on the ‘VIDEOS’ page from the top menu.