Wednesday, February 20, 2013
The ‘wild man of Exmoor’ Johnny Kingdom is on TV next Wednesday in a one hour special following his trip to film brown bears in Alaska.
WITH his heart pounding after a rattling white knuckle plane ride, Johnny Kingdom’s first sight as he stepped on to a deserted Alaskan beach was a wolf.
Shortly afterwards, the ‘wild man of Exmoor’ hardly dared to breath and he and guide Jo advanced to within 20 metres of a large brown bear digging for clams in the sand.
Television viewers can follow Johnny on his journey north in a one hour special on BBC Four at 9pm on Wednesday of next week (February 27).
Johnny Kingdom and the Bears of Alaska will portray the fulfilment of a lifelong ambition for the amateur filmmaker as he travels to Kodiak Island to watch the bears as they fish for salmon.
The trip in July last year was filmed by Available Light Productions on behalf the of the BBC and Johnny’s wife Julie was able to accompany him on what he says is ‘the best trip I have ever done’.
“It was a dream come true for me because I have always wanted to go there,” he told the Gazette.
“On the beach was my first sighting of a bear and I can’t explain how I felt, my heart was thumping. The difference is, over here I am stalking the deer on Exmoor, but out there you have got to let the bears come to you.”
Not a fan of flying, Johnny happily admitted the two large predators were far less daunting than the sea plane he had just arrived on.
“You couldn’t drive into Kodiak, you had to fly and we went in a 1943 plane that was nearly as old as I am, but Julie was very brave, she sat up front with the pilot,” he recalled.
“When we went through the mountains this plane was dropping out of the sky, rattling and shaking.”
But he was willing to endure it all for the chance to see and film Alaska’s bounty of wildlife. As well as bears, they spotted foxes, sea eagles and even had an opportunity to go whale watching, as well as enjoying Alaskan hospitality.
He hopes one day to realise another ambition and return to Canada to film the giant elk during their rutting season, as well as to travel further north in search of polar bears.
Viewers can find out next Wednesday if Johnny finally does fulfil his dream of watching bears catch salmon in their claws by tuning in to BBC Four at 9pm.