Johnny Kingdom

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Johnny Kingdom
Johnny Kingdom Barnstaple Market 04-08-18.jpg
Johnny Kingdom at Barnstaple Pannier Market in August 2018
Walter John Kingdon

(1939-02-23)23 February 1939
Died6 September 2018(2018-09-06) (aged 79)
Known forFilmmaking

Walter John Kingdon (23 February 1939 – 6 September 2018),[1] known as Johnny Kingdom, was an English wildlife filmmaker and photographer specialising in his local area of Exmoor in north Devon and west Somerset.

Early life[edit]

Before finding fame, Kingdom worked as an explosives expert, lumberjack,[2] farmhand, quarryman, poacher and for over 50 years the gravedigger for his local parish.[3]

Media career[edit]

Following a head injury sustained while driving a tractor in his job as a lumberjack, Kingdom spent some time convalescing and developed depression. To aid in his recovery, a friend lent him a video camera and suggested he film wildlife on Exmoor.[2] This led to a career spanning 20 years, with series and documentaries being shown on a number of British television channels.

His 2006 series Johnny Kingdom: A Year on Exmoor was shown on BBC Two. The series coincided with the publication of his autobiography, Johnny Kingdom - A Wild Life on Exmoor. A follow-up series, Johnny's New Kingdom, documenting his project to create a wildlife haven on a 55-acre (22-hectare) plot of land which he had purchased on Exmoor, was shown on BBC Two in 2008.[3] Kingdom has also made several one-off programmes, including visits to Lapland and to the Scottish Highlands. In 2015 he presented a four-part series for ITV called Johnny Kingdom's Wild Exmoor.

In later years he regularly had a stall at Barnstaple Pannier Market from which he sold signed copies of his books, DVDs and photographs of wildlife.[4][5][6]


Kingdom died in September 2018 from injuries sustained in a digger accident on his land near Knowstone in North Devon.[7] He was buried at St Mary's Parish Church, Bishop's Nympton, in a grave that he had dug.[8]


  1. ^ "Walter John KINGDON – Inquest, No Jury". Her Majesty's Coroner for the Exeter and Greater Devon District. 25 June 2019. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  2. ^ a b Sale, Jonathan (23 November 2006). "My First Job: Johnny Kingdom, the wildlife film-maker, was a lumberjack". The Independent. Archived from the original on 14 June 2022. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  3. ^ a b Billen, Andrew (5 March 2008). "Horizon; Johnny's New Kingdom; Monster Moves". The Times. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2011.(subscription required)
  4. ^ Howells, Sarah (14 September 2018). "Tributes pour in for 'legend' and 'magical friend' Johnny Kingdom". North Devon Gazette. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  5. ^ Cooper, Joel (7 September 2018). "A life in wildlife: Johnny Kingdom through the years". DevonLive. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  6. ^ Smart, Matt (7 September 2018). "'A legend lost': North Devon TV personality Johnny Kingdom has died, aged 79". North Devon Gazette. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  7. ^ "Wildlife presenter Johnny Kingdom killed by digger". BBC News. 7 September 2018. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  8. ^ "Obituary: Johnny Kingdom". The Economist. 20 September 2018. Retrieved 22 August 2020.(subscription required)

External links[edit]