Who is Chris Packham's stepdaughter, Megan McCubbin?

Lisa Walden
·5-min read

From Country Living

Megan McCubbin, Chris Packham’s stepdaughter, made her live TV debut during Springwatch 2020. Megan appeared alongside Chris as his co-presenter in the New Forest, where Chris lives. Megan moved in with Chris just before the first lockdown so she could carry on working while her mum was in and out of hospital as an NHS key worker.

Megan went on to join Chris on Autumnwatch 2020 and she is confirmed to appear on Winterwatch 2021. It looks like the passionate young presenter is here to stay.

"Going live for the first time, on BBC Two, to an audience of millions, was always going to be daunting but I really enjoyed it," Megan tells Country Living. "I love doing live TV now. There’s something so spontaneous and exciting about it and to share my passion for wildlife with an audience who also shares that passion is amazing."

Megan McCubbin on Winterwatch 2021

Winterwatch will return to our screens from Tuesday 19th to Friday 29th January 2021. It will air every evening, Tuesdays to Fridays, at 8pm. With the UK back in lockdown, Winterwatch will see its presenters broadcasting separately, live from their local areas. Megan and Chris will be in the New Forest, on their home turf and, amongst other things, will be updating us on their local badgers, who captivated viewers in spring and autumn.

"Nearly every night during [spring] lockdown, I'd lie down and watch them," Megan tells Country Living. "They got used to mine and Chris’s smells. We are both keen photographers so we had this private badger photography competition. We both got to know them really well."

Talking about what it's like to present with his stepdaughter, Chris said that he hopes "young people’s ideas, perspectives and passions" will inspire a new generation of wildlife-lovers to "follow in her footsteps”.

Photo credit: Lia Toby - Getty Images
Photo credit: Lia Toby - Getty Images

“I’m pleased to see that Megan is doing some more stuff, not because she is my stepdaughter – that makes it a little challenging – but because she’s 25-years-old," Chris told journalists in a Zoom interview last year. "I’m equally, therefore, pleased to see that we’ve got other young presenters doing things for us again."

Chris compares Megan’s work ethic and passion to that of his long-standing co-presenter and friend Michaela Strachan, who will sadly not be part of Winterwatch 2021 because she is based in South Africa and can not get back to the UK. “Megs is really keen on her science. She’s a bit like Michaela really," said Chris. "She works really, really hard and is very dedicated and diligent, and very prepared and professional despite her young age. She’s taken leaves out of Michaela’s book there.

“That’s good from my point of view because it means I can carry on being cavalier, even though I’m not with Michaela. I’ll turn up last minute and babble on about some stuff which may be related to what we’re meant to be talking about and I’ll be kept in check by Megs if Michaela can’t be alongside me.”

What is Megan McCubbin's background?

25-year-old Megan has loved nature since she was very young.

"I met Chris when I was two-years-old and, since that point, I've been on TV sets with him and we have traveled a lot around the world. My first memory of nature is having the animals Chris was rehabilitating in our downstairs toilet," Megan tells CL over Zoom.

"We looked after a barn owl called Marmite for some time, he was really lovely. That’s how I first learnt to fly a bird, with this beautiful barn owl in my living room. When I was in primary school, Chris was invited to do the end of year assembly. We thought it would be great to fly Marmite in the assembly hall but he didn’t want to fly! He just flew up into the roof and sat there while we tried to get him down.

"My bedroom was always filled with praying mantises, tortoises and cockroaches. It was like a mini invertebrates zoo."

Megan won the under 12's RSPCA Wildlife Photographer of the Year award in 2007 and then went on to study zoology at Liverpool University, where she overcame struggles with dyslexia. "It was definitely hard," recalls Megan. "The maths and the chemistry were a challenge but it’s about persevering and doing what you can. I genuinely found it all so exciting and wanted to know more, so I stuck at it."

Despite Chris splitting from Megan's mother when she was 12-years-old, the pair have remained close. Megan has been involved in Chris' environmental campaigns, regularly joining him on protest marches. In March 2020, Megan helped Chris launch an online birdwatching community called the Self Isolation Bird Club, to offer an escape for those self-isolating due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In November 2020, Chris and Megan published their first book together called Back To Nature: How to Love Life and Save it. "Essentially it’s a handbook with practical solutions for people to help bring wildlife back to a sustainable level and invite it into their outdoor spaces," says Megan proudly, who admits she found the opportunity to write a book "quite astonishing."

"[Chris and I] understand each other and one another’s limitations and excelling traits, so we are able to push each other in different ways," says Megan of Chris Packham. "He pushes me to be a little more outrageous at times – which is good and gets me out of my comfort zone. I can pull him back down and say ‘ok let’s think about this.' We complement each other really well and have a good time. We’ve got a similar sense of humour."

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