Johnny Kingdom

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Johnny Kingdom at Barnstaple Pannier Market in August 2018

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.


Kingdom had been a powder monkey, lumberjack,[2] farm worker, quarryman, poacher and for over 50 years the gravedigger for his local parish,[3] but his overriding passion was filming the wildlife on his beloved Exmoor. He made films for over 20 years, with series and documentaries being shown on a number of British television channels.

Kingdom started his career in wildlife filming following a very bad accident whilst driving a tractor in his previous job as a lumberjack. To aid in recovery from his subsequent depression, a friend lent him a video camera and suggested he film wildlife on Exmoor.[2]

His 2006 series Johnny Kingdom: A Year on Exmoor was shown on BBC Two and has been shown on UKTV People and UKTV Gardens, part of the UKTV Network. The series coincided with the publication of his autobiography Johnny Kingdom - A Wild Life on Exmoor. One-off programmes have also been shown featuring visits to Lapland and to the Scottish Highlands. A new BBC series, Johnny's New Kingdom, commenced in March 2008.[3] In this, having now purchased 55 acres of land on Exmoor, Kingdom set out to make it a haven for as much local wildlife as he could.

In 2015 he presented a 4-part series for ITV called Johnny Kingdom's Wild Exmoor which aired on Monday nights at 8.00PM.

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]


He died on 6 September 2018 following a digger accident on his land near Knowstone in North Devon.[7] His funeral service took place on 23 September 2018, at St Mary's Parish Church, Bishop's Nympton. He was buried in the churchyard — in a grave that he had prepared himself.[8]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Sale, Jonathan (2006) "My First Job: Johnny Kingdom, the wildlife film-maker, was a lumberjack", The Independent, 23 November 2006, retrieved 2011-07-17
  3. ^ a b Billen, Andrew (2008) "Horizon; Johnny's New Kingdom; Monster Moves", The Times, 5 March 2008, retrieved 2011-07-17
  4. ^ Tributes pour in for ‘legend’ and ‘magical friend’ Johnny Kingdom- North Devon Gazette 14 September 2018
  5. ^ A life in wildlife: Johnny Kingdom through the years - Devon Live - 7 September 2018
  6. ^ ‘A legend lost’: North Devon TV personality Johnny Kingdom has died, aged 79 - North Devon Gazette 7 September 2018
  7. ^ "Wildlife presenter Johnny Kingdom killed by digger". BBC News. 7 September 2018. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  8. ^ The Economist: obituary (subscription required)

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