Phil Drabble – a countryman born in the Black Country
FOR TV viewers in the 1970s and ’80s Phil Drabble, presenter of One Man and His Dog, was the archetype of the countryman, but few realised that his roots lay in the industrial Black Country.
He was born in 1914 in Bloxwich, where his father was a general practitioner. Phil did not enjoy a happy childhood; his mother died when he was nine years old and he was bullied at school, but he found an escape searching for butterflies and birds in the surrounding wastelands, instilling in him a life-long passion for wildlife and the countryside.
He was sent to Keble College, Oxford, to study medicine but dropped out to be an engineer instead. His father got him a job at a local firm but Phil later joined Salters, where he rose to join the board of directors.
In 1941 his first article, on Staffordshire Bull Terriers, was published in The Field. This led to a second career writing about the countryside. 1947 saw Phil make his radio debut, in a programme on Black Country bull rings and in 1952 he first appeared on television.
The following year Phil and his wife Jess bought a cottage with 90 acres of land at Abbots Bromley and set up a nature reserve.
Phil gave up his job with Salters and devoted himself to the countryside, his writing and television career. One Man and His Dog began broadcasting in 1976, with Phil as the host until he retired in 1993. That same year he was awarded an OBE.
Phil Drabble continued to write about and campaign for nature and passed away in 2007, aged 93.
Phil Drabble was a wildlife campaigner and wrote many books and articles on the countryside
Bloxwich-born Phil Drabble was a champion of traditional country life