TV wildlife enthusiast Johnny Kingdom killed in digger accident

The 79-year-old who came to fame in A Year on Exmoor has died in his beloved Devon

Television wildlife film-maker Johnny Kingdom has died at the age of 79 following an accident on his land involving a digger. Kingdom, who specialised in his local area of Exmoor and north Devon and had appeared extensively on the BBC, was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency services in a field near Wadham Cross in Knowstone, Devon, following reports confirmed by police that a digger had rolled over on Thursday night.

His family said in a statement: “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’. RIP 23/02/39–06/09/18.”

His television agent, Hilary Knight, described him as one of the last true characters of rural Britain. “Johnny Kingdom embodied all the attributes that are associated with true countrymen,” Knight said. “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.”

Last night’s TV: Johnny’s New Kingdom

Kingdom worked variously as a farmer, quarryman, forestry worker, gravedigger and poacher before he became a film-maker when he was lent a video camera following a tractor accident. He soon developed a passion for recording wildlife and was particularly well known for taking pictures of stags and badgers.

In 2006, the BBC broadcast a 10-part series about his life, Johnny Kingdom: A Year on Exmoor. The animal lover wrote an accompanying book, A Wild Life on Exmoor, for the series, which was followed by Bambi and Me and West Country Tales.

BBC Countryfile presenter Richard Taylor-Jones paid tribute to a “wonderful, magical” friend. “He taught me so much and reminded me why we all need nature in our lives and how to enjoy it in the best possible way,” Taylor-Jones said. “On our last day filming together, he gave me this feather from his hat. It still sits on my desk today as one of my most treasured possessions.”

Source: The Guardian


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