Chris Packham: Winterwatch host opens up on struggle with partner ‘It was so pressurised’

Chris Packham talks spending lockdown with Megan McCubbin

Winterwatch presenter Chris Packham, 59, has spoken out about going through a “stressful situation” when he realised he was attracted to his now-long-term partner Charlotte Corney. The star recalled the moment he first met Charlotte, who is the owner of the Isle of Wight Zoo, and revealed he struggled to look at her initially.

Chris explained his Asperger’s Syndrome makes it difficult for him to make eye contact with people apart from in “aggressive situations”.

The naturalist, who was diagnosed with the neurodevelopmental disorder in his 40s, struggles in social situations, has difficulty with human relationships. 

Opening up about how his autism has impacted his relationships in a new interview, Chris explained: “In aggressive situations, I understand the need to command people’s attention by looking at them.

“So in any form of aggressive encounter, that’s a method and I have a mission, so therefore I will look at people.

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“But in a conflict situation, which isn’t an aggressive one, even now I find myself incapable of looking at people.”

He added while discussing his partner: “And also in other stressful situations like when Charlotte and I met, it was about 12 or 13 years ago now, she said to me, ‘I thought I’d met the weirdest person because I was with them for six months and they didn’t look at me once’.”

Detailing his struggles at the time, Chris recalled: “I so liked Charlotte and I wanted to develop a relationship with her.

“But I was so intimidated by that and it was so pressurised, that I found it really really difficult to look at her despite the fact that I really liked the way she looked!

 

“But in that situation, even now as an adult, it’s still sometimes a struggle,” he added during an appearance on The Different Minds podcast, hosted by John Offord.

It comes after Charlotte previously reflected on how she and Chris met and her initial impressions of him.

She told Radio Times: “Chris and I met professionally when he visited the zoo that I run on the Isle of Wight. 

“He tells me now that he knew that day that I was The One. I had no idea of this, and at the time, I was with my ex-partner anyway.

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She continued: “Then in 2007 Chris did a voiceover on a programme that was filmed at the zoo. 

“He made a huge effort to come to the launch of the film so that he could meet me again.”

Chris initially kept the fact that he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome hidden from Charlotte.

Charlotte explained: “It was about five years before he told me he has autism, and that was only because I asked.

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