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Autumn Hunting

Wednesday 21 September 2011, 14:14

Keri Davies Keri Davies Web Producer, The Archers

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There has been some concern among listeners about Freddie Pargetter's keenness to follow in his father's hoofsteps and to go 'autumn hunting'. Some people have suggested that we are portraying - even encouraging - an illegal activity.

I'm happy to be able to assure listeners that we aren't.

In years past, 'cubbing' or cub hunting took place before the formal opening of the hunting season in late October or early November. It was a way of training new hounds to scent and chase foxes, and to work as a pack. This activity became known as 'autumn hunting' some time before the Hunting Act 2004 made it illegal, along with mainstream fox hunting.

The hunting that we portray in The Archers is all legal within the act. So in the autumn hunting that Freddie is keen to join, the hounds and riders follow scented trails, not foxes. Nonetheless, hunts keep up the traditions of autumn hunting They go out in early morning or late afternoon, sporting not the hunting 'pink' (actually red), but the more informal mode of dress known as 'ratcatcher'. And the trail is usually laid through woodland rather than open countryside.

We are very aware that hunting is an emotive issue on both sides of the debate, and we always ensure that, over time, a range of views on this topic are aired in The Archers. Jill has already expressed her reservations about her grandson's enthusiam for hunting.

Keri Davies is an Archers (and Ambridge Extra) scriptwriter and web producer.


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    Comment number 1.

    Thanks for this info., Keri--I found it interesting as I'd genuinely not heard the expression 'cubbing' or 'Autumn Hunting' before it came up on the programme, having never lived in the country, I suppose, although I am aware of some of the pro- and anti- arguments about the 2004 Hunting Act, and I knew about the earlier Countryside March which (mysteriously) wasn't mentioned on TA at the time.

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    Comment number 2.

    Listeners might find this thread on the Archers Message Board interesting/amusing -

    Eleven and on a lead rein hunting!!!! Surely he will die of shame...
    www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbarchers/NF2693940?thread=8277865

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    Comment number 3.

    You should not have to explain or apologise for Autumn Hunting (as the lefties will now have us call it). Hunting is a perfectly natural country sport and should be unashamedly promoted within the programme. Jill's attitude towards Freddie's participation is distasteful, to say the least.

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    Comment number 4.

    It's a shame that the scriptwritters continually refer to hunting as 'going out with the hunt'. People don't talk like that; they say, 'I'm going hunting' or 'I'm hunting tommorow'.

    As for the rights and wrongs, it is a proven fact that hunting is more popular than ever since the ban, and any child who is involved with their local pony club is likely to want to move on to hunting.

    The comment above also suggests that all hunt followers wear 'pink'. In fact, only hunt staff wear red; it helps to identify them in the field.

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    Comment number 5.

    Dear Mr Davies,

    Ambridge is in central England. Hunting would be deeply ingrained in the inhabitants and supported hugely.

    The way the SW's write this is beyond belief. Are they ignorant of country affais or under some sort of instruction?

    As for "Autumn Hunting"..... PAH!

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    Comment number 6.

    The worry is not whether hunting is or is not legal and whether or not it ought to be portrayed as happening; it is what the fisk sort of rider Freddie is meant to be. He gallops about looking over his left shoulder and geeing the horse on by gripping with his heels, and gets clear rounds in the jumping at gymkhnanas, but has to be coached over two small jumps on a leading rain. What is going on here?

    Our Freda has beautifully summed up the concern felt by some of us about leading reins for eleven-year-olds who seem by previous accounts able to ride really quite well without them, in a poem (after John Betjemen) called "Millie's Lament": http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbarchers/NF2693940?thread=8278562

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    Comment number 7.

    >I knew about the earlier Countryside March which (mysteriously) wasn't mentioned on TA at the time

    This is a myth which I am keen to correct. I assume you are talking about the Countryside Rally in Hyde Park in July 1997. Because of the speed with which this event was arranged, we weren't able to give it advance coverage in the programme. But the day of the rally itself was dramatised in considerable detail. A writer, a producer and two actors actually attended the rally and recorded specially written scenes on location, with the sounds of the real rally in the background, and those scenes were cut into that evening's episode.

    I know this very well, because I was the producer in question.

    We also featured the Liberty and Livelihood March in September 2002 in a big way, with a coach from Ambridge taking numerous characters to London.

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    Comment number 8.

    A last minute addition was inserted, but other broadcasters of the programme, such as the BFBS, transmitted the original. This may have led to a certain amount of confusion.

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    Comment number 9.

    Just be thankfull that Freddie is finally going hunting! He'll do away with the lead rein half an hour after the hounds move off, I'm sure!

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    Comment number 10.

    Dear Mr Davies,

    I thought the countryside marcg was in 2002?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2274129.stm

    As reported by the BBC?

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    Comment number 11.

    Good for Freddie's Granma. I would like to disagree with all the above supporteres of dear little Freddie going off and killing defenceless animals for a bit of fun, no it is NOT normal to teach this to your children. I hope Freddie falls off his horse and is spoken of in hushed tones ever after!

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    Comment number 12.

    Surely "illegal activities" often ARE portrayed in BBC dramas?

    I seem to recall even murders - all over the place.

    So why NOT have the local hunt going well beyond the law when there was no-one to see? Too realistic?

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    Comment number 13.

    heatherfeather58 Freddie is not going off to kill anything, as a cursory glance at both the initial post and the law in question would make obvious.
    Wishing death upon young children is OK, presumably?
    (And don't give me he's fictitious. So are all the foxes in Borsetshire.)

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    Comment number 14.

    I hope Freddie dies and if he falls off a horse and is eaten by a fox I'd cheer. He's a tedious character brought in to fill the space left by Nigel and I don't give a stuff about him other than to wish him well away from the airwaves which means in this case, death. He's fictitious. As would be the fox that ate him.

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    Comment number 15.

    I can see both sides in the hunting debate, but what I find puzzling is the description of a fox as a 'defenceless animal'.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10251349

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    Comment number 16.

    Autumn hunting was introduced by the Countryside Alliance following the ban, it is used to hind the fact that cub hunting is using a family of foxes to train new hounds.
    Most people find this offensive rather like dog fighting with 6 month old pups!
    Also the phrase "hunting is an emotive issue on both sides of the debate" is another Countryside Alliance smoke screen as over 70% of the population do not support hunting and this attempts to portray hunting is a 50-50 issue.
    This article is most dishonest and misleading and biased.

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    Comment number 17.

    Hugo, saying that an issue is 'emotive' on both sides of the debate, means that both sides feel strongly; it doesn't imply anything whatsoever about what percentage of the population that occupies each side.

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    Comment number 18.

    When people talk about sides they usually think in terms of binary items; heads or tails; true or false; yes or no; good or bad.
    This leads to a 50 - 50 split in most people minds - its planned that way by the Countryside Alliance.
    Stag hunting has 96% against it but never referred to as emotive issue!

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    Comment number 19.

    I'm with Organoleptic Icon. Illegal activity is a mainstay of TV and radio drama and, as hunts continue to go about their business regardless of the law, and dismiss anyone who feels this is wrong as sentimental leftie townies, they should be portrayed as doing so in The Archers. There are plenty of country folk who do not agree with hunting, and will be glad when hunts finally realise that hunting live quarry for fun isn't a 'human right' and that, along with the rest of us, they are not exempt from obeying the law. Little Freddie is from a hunting family who would no doubt be amongst those eagerly and illegally continuing to hunt. This is an issue that should be raised on The Archers, not casually dismissed by having them drag hunting. Most hunts start their day by announcing "this is a legal hunt", then nonchalantly heading off to 'accidentally' pick up a live scent. Cub hunting is an even more disgusting 'sport' in which young dogs who wouldn't naturally chase a fox rather than, say, a rabbit, are trained to do so. The activity should be explained by both pro- and anti-hunt characters if you really want to depict hunting as part of country life, especially as Jill is already voicing her concerns. It's illegal, but continues to happen. We shouldn't become complacent about it.

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    Comment number 20.

    Oh, and Nemo39, While I find the use of the phrase "defencless animal" to be clicheed, overused and somewhat cutesy when used by people trying to encourage higher animal welfare (especially when faced with people trying to discourage animal welfare), a fox does have very little defence when being chased for hours across open coutryside by a pack of braying hounds and a mob of people on galloping horses. It's not exactly common for a fox to enter a house, let alone head upstairs, climb into a cot and attack children. I grew up in the forest and never once heard of a fox attacking anyone, and you could be certain that if one ever had then the old foresters would churn the story out year after year.

 

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