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Johnny Kingdom's stories from the moor

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Jeremy Torrance web producer Jeremy Torrance web producer | 13:03 UK time, Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Guest blog post: camera assistant Hector Skevington-Postles reports on filming with Johnny Kingdom, the man of the moor, for Autumnwatch.

The Autumnwatch Aventure team with Johnny Kingtom on Exmoor

The task for the Autumnwatch Adventure team on Exmoor was to capture a piece of this beautiful countryside, the deer and the special relationship that one man, Johnny Kingdom, shares with both.

Inside Johnny's office the intoxicating mix of camouflage, taxidermy and camera equipment gave a clear idea of the man we were here to film. Then the stories began. Surrounded by hundreds of tapes of his own footage, Johnny began to regale us with tales of the moor. This would be the tone for the week.

Johnny Kingdom

The first morning's filming was to interview him, to start condensing his knowledge and structuring the shoot ahead. As well as that, it was a chance for the crew to begin navigating their way through Johnny's linguistic maze of "innums", "see heres" and "dun theys".

Director/cameraman Richard Taylor-Jones knows Johnny of old. The well-established rapport between the pair not only eased us into filming but allowed us to get the best from our presenter.

Johnny Kingdom being filmed

 

Johnny always becomes charged with emotion when talking about Exmoor, the ponies and its wildlife. The emotion becomes even more charged when he's discussing red deer. The rut has become an integral part of his life and Autumnwatch couldn't have come at a better time to witness it.

We spent the third morning in a treehouse watching over 70 individuals. The large stag approached soon after we arrived, spreading the prickets and hinds coming up, cutting through the mist. You could tell the feeling at this point stretched beyond the excitable character you sometimes see on TV. Although it's an event he's witnessed many times over the years, the anticipation of this year's rut is evident in everything he says.

The fortuitously warm weather and plentiful mist allowed for two other great mornings filming. This has then hopefully culminated in as true and as honest a portrayal as possible: of this wilderness, of the deer on Exmoor and of the man on the moor.

Watch Johnny Kingdom on the trail of the red deer rut on Autumnwatch, 8.30pm Friday 21 October on BBC Two.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Johnny Kingdom is a wonderful man and a true inspiration. It was his suggestion that we start filming wildlife, but what I wouldnt give to know how to get picked up like he did as our programmes are raved over by all who see them. We also do documentary pieces for the local wildlife trust. (westcountrywildlife.com)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/65948416@N08/6253920363/

  • Comment number 2.

    i have been fortunate enough to bump into johnny several times this year on exmoor during the rut.the last time was on monday morning just before dawn near simonsbath where he was waiting for the stags to start roaring before i guess he met up with the autumwatch crew. i had my head down looking for the lid to my flask i had lost in the grass with an ear open for the stags i didnt see him pull up next to me , he greated me with a shout of "you is up early bey" we got chatting and he showed me his recording device of stag calls, with his infectuse enthusiasum for the rut ever present it wasnt long before he was gone and i had forgoten all about the lost lid to my flask and i to was on the stalk for my next encounter with a stag. he is one of those few people you meet in life that brightens up you day and always has time for a chat.if you see or hear from him send him my regards autumwatch crew and could you ask him if he found the lid to my flask to leave it somewhere i can find it !!

  • Comment number 3.

    Looking forward to the programme now. Thanks for sharing your encounter Gareth. Great to hear of Johnny's enthusiasm to chat to you off camera too. I suspected this might be the case :-)

  • Comment number 4.

    On the river Itchen Southampton i saw 2 adult swans attack and try to drown a young swan .I know that the 2 adult swans were not the parents.Why is this ?

  • Comment number 5.

    I love Autumnwatch but feel really disappointed that you have Johnny Kingdom on the show. He lost all credibility when he killed the magnificent stag last year. Shame on you Johnny. Avril

  • Comment number 6.

    Question for Mr Kingdom ; What was your best wildlife experience ?

  • Comment number 7.

    You are so lucky garethglt, I've never met Johnny but from watching his tv series and reading his books he seems so passionate about wildlife, love him. Perhaps I should visit exmoor.

  • Comment number 8.

    Johnny is a legend! What is the longest you have stayed in one spot to watch a natural spectacle

  • Comment number 9.

    can you ask johnny if he found my flask after we met on monday morning near kinnsford gate (simonsbath)

  • Comment number 10.

    Hello Johnny !. fantastic photography of the Rutting Stags on AW tonight. I have only watched Fallow Stags rutting, and they did not appear threatening, but nevertheless anyone should heed your warnings and be very vigilant when filming any deer at this time.
    However, I would like to ask a question about Sika Deer. on brownsea island near Poole , Dorset. do these deer live on the island , or do they swim across Poole harbour to feed, and are they found on Exmoor also and other areas of UK. As they are similar toRed Deer, and non-native, some people may confuse these species. ?
    Thanks
    not so posh Sussex

  • Comment number 11.

    I saw a raven take a young rabbit once !

  • Comment number 12.

    doesnt it upset johnny if he has to cull a beautiful stag

  • Comment number 13.

    How can I get involved as I live in France? but have a digital box.

  • Comment number 14.

    At 72 Johnny has the naive charm and enthusiasm of youth, absolutely fantastic.

    MORE PLEASE.

  • Comment number 15.

    @jdd, you can get involved in many ways - post on the blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, or on the messageboard.

  • Comment number 16.

    would love to see more of Johnny watched his programmes his passion for wildlife is second to none you can just tell by how he talks about what he does he has real passion and cares about what happens to our wildlife in this country, and johnny you look great for your age hope we see more of you on our screens soon xx

 

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