Michaela Strachan says secret to a happy relationship is to never get married

As a Springwatch host, Michaela Strachan knows plenty about ­animal relationships – yet her advice for ­humans in love sounds a bit wild.

After 15 years of happiness with ­cameraman Nick Chevallier, the star laughs as she says: “I think the secret is not to get married.”

Michaela is the first to recognise this recipe for ­success may sound strange.

She admitted: “I shouldn’t say that. That could be taken well out of context. But maybe the secret is we’re apart a lot.

“We don’t get on each other’s nerves as much as maybe we would if we were together all the time.”

It seems to work. Michaela and Nick share the same interests and outlook for ­raising their 13-year-old son Ollie.

She said: “We’re both into the outdoors, we’re both into wildlife, being outdoor, being fit. We’re very like-minded people. We’re very good friends and get on really well.”

The bubbly presenter has won countless admirers as her lengthy TV career has gone from strength to strength over the years.

Now 52, she has noticed a change in her fans. Schoolboys used to fancy her but these days she catches the eye of older men.

Telling how she is stopped in the street, Michaela said: “I used to get, ‘My dad fancies you,’ then when I’ve got older I get, ‘My dad used to fancy you,’ and as I’ve got a bit older I get, ‘My grandad fancies you.’”

Michaela, who was married to filmmaker Duncan Chard for five years, hosted the BBC’s nature programme Countryfile and now presents Autumnwatch and Springwatch in the UK with Chris Packham.

But as she and her family live ­behind Table Mountain National Park in South Africa, travel is part and parcel of her work.

She said: “I think my ambitions these days are to find a balance in life – balancing the work I love to do with family life which is ­really important to me.

“If I can get those two things right I feel I’ve done a good job.

“I always miss my family but I’ve been doing this job for a long time now.

“Although it seems outrageous to some people, to me travelling round the world has always been my life and it’s very normal.

“It takes a lot of scheduling and it takes a lot of juggling but we do it and we’re all used to it. When I’m at home I’m a very big part of my son’s life and then when I’m away I’m not such a big part of his life ­because I’m not there on a day to day basis.

“That’s how he’s grown up. He’s very used to it and we seem to manage.”

“My partner is ­amazing with my son and ­sometimes I think a lot of kids these days only see their mums half of the year because their parents are divorced and it’s 50:50 with either parent.

“I see my son way more than half the year and he’s got two ­parents who are still very much in love. He has a balanced upbringing, I think.”

Unsurprisingly for someone known for her love of animals, with telly work including The Really Wild Show in the 90s, Michaela’s family includes rescue dog Rio and, in an unplanned development, a cat.

She said: “Rio is the absolute centre of our family’s life. She’s only two years old and she’s adorable. We also have a cat that decided to live with us. I would never ­actually get a cat these days ­because they’re predators and they bring birds and goodness knows what in, but we’ve kind of got a little bit fond of it now.”

Michaela’s rise to fame began in the 80s on breakfast television shows including TV-am. Next came music programmes, most ­notably the The Hit Man and Her.

Since then the star has focused on ­programmes about conservation.

She said: “I feel very connected to the natural environment. It’s my ­happy place. I think the more you learn about something the more passionate you become. I love wildlife so why wouldn’t I like to be with animals in the wild?”

Michaela is pleased when she finds out she has inspired others. She said: “The best ­comments that you get are when someone comes along to you and says, ‘I used to watch you on Really Wild Show as a child and you’ve inspired me to go into conservation.’

“Then you find out they are working for the RSPB, they’re a vet, or they’re ­working in some sort of conservation or ­sustainability.”

The presenter has a ­particular passion for orangutans, sharks, dolphins and ­puffins but thinks the lives of the ­tiniest ­creatures, such as the ­parasitic wasp, can be equally fascinating.

Michaela said: “On Springwatch yesterday we did red mason bees.

“We looked at how they make their ­chambers in a bee box and their life cycle is absolutely ­brilliant. We mustn’t just look at the cute, the cuddly, the sexy. ­Sometimes the stuff we take for granted has a much more ­fascinating ­biology than a big cuddly animal.”

Michaela is ­working hard to highlight the plight of the kiwi, New Zealand’s ­national bird, which is in ­danger of extinction.

For a short ­documentary called The Forgotten World, she ­recently headed to the ­country to look at predator-free islands, where kiwis can thrive.

She said: “They are like honorary ­mammals and they’re full of character. They are great little birds. Because they’re flightless it makes them very vulnerable. They’re adorable and quirky.

“Their feathers are more like hair and they’re almost furry looking.

“We saw a wild one in a predator-proofed area and I squealed with delight. It was really great to see this little thing scurrying along in the bushes.

“What they’re trying to do is to make New Zealand predator-free by 2050, which is an extremely ambitious project but, in the meantime, they’ve got these predator-free islands which have been hugely ­successful.

“The chances of survival for a kiwi on a predator-free island are 99 per cent.

“The chances of survival for a chick in an area not free of predators is one in 20. It’s a really positive project. It is ­proactive and it is making a difference.”

  • Old Mout cider wants Britons to be inspired to join the mission to save the kiwi. For each person who signs up to oldmoutcider.co.uk/help-save-the-kiwi 20p will be donated to the campaign.

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