jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG  11th September 2018


Johnny Kingdom, the wildlife expert, dies in digger accident on his farm

I enjoy nature and the countryside and I love larger than life characters real or fictional.

Johnny Kingdom fitted both these slots and I just loved his books and programmes and felt he was a salt of the earth person. Sadly he died last week, which was a major loss to the world. Here I pay my respects to him.

TV Wildlife Expert Dies

A TV wildlife expert has died following a tragic digger accident on his farmland.

Johnny Kingdom, who specialised in his local area of Exmoor and north Devon – died last Thursday night 6th September 2018 at the age of 79.

Emergency services were called to reports that a digger had rolled over in a field on Mr Kingdom’s land at about 9pm. He was pronounced dead at the scene near Wadham Cross in Knowstone, Devon.

Before becoming a film-maker, Mr Kingdom had taken on numerous roles in his locality.

He was lent a video camera following a tractor accident and developed a passion for recording wildlife.

In 2006, the BBC screened a 10-part series about his life entitled Johnny Kingdom: A Year On Exmoor. He wrote an accompanying book, A Wild Life On Exmoor, followed by Bambi And Me, and West Country Tales.

True Character

Yesterday he was described as “one of the last true characters of rural Britain” following his death.

His television agent Hilary Knight paid tribute, saying: “Today we have lost one of the last true characters of rural Britain.

“Johnny Kingdom embodied all the attributes that are associated with true countrymen.

“Born and bred an Exmoor man through-and-through he loved his Devon patch and all the flora and fauna within.

“He lit up our TV screens with his enthusiasm and passion. He became a very proficient photographer and cameraman and his work became very sought after.”

In a statement, Mr Kingdom’s family asked his fans to continue his love for Exmoor.

They said: “This is a short message from the family, unfortunately a legend has been lost.

“Johnny would want you all to continue with his love for Exmoor as you all meant so much to him.

“As the loving man himself would have said: ‘Farewell to all you lovely people’.

A spokeswoman for Devon and Cornwall Police said officers were called to a single-vehicle collision in the field on Thursday night.

“It was reported that a digger had rolled over in a field,” a spokeswoman said.

“Emergency services attended and a 79-year-old local man was pronounced dead at the scene. His next of kin are aware.”

Johnny’s Career

Johnny Kingdom 23 February 1939 – 6 September 2018 was an English wildlife filmmaker and photographer specialising in his local area of Exmoor in North Devon.

He had been a powder monkey, lumberjack, farm worker, quarryman, poacher and for over 50 years the gravedigger for his local parish, but his overriding passion was filming the wildlife on his beloved Exmoor. He made films for over 20 years, with series and documentaries being shown on a number of British television channels.

Kingdom started his career in wildlife filming following a very bad accident whilst driving a tractor in his previous job as a lumberjack. To aid in recovery from his subsequent depression, a friend lent him a video camera and suggested he film wildlife on Exmoor.

His 2006 series Johnny Kingdom: A Year on Exmoor was shown on BBC Two and has been shown on UKTV People and UKTV Gardens, part of the UKTV Network. The series coincided with the publication of his autobiography Johnny Kingdom – A Wild Life on Exmoor. One-off programmes have also been shown featuring visits to Lapland and to the Scottish Highlands. A new BBC series, Johnny’s New Kingdom, commenced in March 2008. In this, having now purchased 55 acres of land on Exmoor, Kingdom set out to make it a haven for as much local wildlife as he could.

In 2015 he presented a 4-part series for ITV called Johnny Kingdom’s Wild Exmoor which aired on Monday nights at 8.00PM.


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