On 6 September, Britain lost one of its most resounding characters. Johnny died when his digger tipped over on his nature reserve in Devon. He was 79 years old.
Johnny will be remembered for his boundless enthusiasm for the wildlife of Exmoor, his beloved home habitat. His television programmes were about wildlife, but were memorable for Johnny himself. His broad Devon brogue, camouflage suits and leather cowboy hat with its bundle of pheasant feathers, made him a screen natural.
His love of wildlife was not scientific, it was passionate; having left school at 15, Johnny’s knowledge was hard-won. Gleaned through life-long experience of many country professions: farm worker, forester, grave digger, quarryman – even poacher. He was an old-world countryman, making it all the more remarkable that in his late 60s he was able to reinvent himself as a television presenter of his own successful show with over three million viewers.
Johnny was a gentleman, always courteous, self-deprecating, pleased to meet new friends – and huge fun. His laugh was memorable and deeply infectious. He will be sorely missed.
Johnny Kingdom’s knowledge of wildlife was gleaned through years of experience.