North Devon TV wildlife presenter and film maker Johnny Kingdom has died following a digger accident on his land.
The 79-year-old was involved in a single-vehicle collision in a field near Wadham Cross in Knowstone last night (Thursday).
Police were called at 9pm to reports of a digger rolling over in the field. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Johnny leaves behind his wife Julie, two sons, and his grandchildren. An emotional tribute from his family said a ‘legend has been lost’.
It said: “Unfortunately a legend has been lost.
“Johnny would want you all to continue with his love for Exmoor as you all meant so much to him.
“As the loving man himself would have said: ‘Farewell to all you lovely people’.”
Johnny’s agent, Hilary Knight, said: “It is with great sadness that we can confirm that wildlife presenter, film maker, photographer and author Johnny Kingdom has died following an accident on his land.
“Johnny was one of the last true characters of rural Britain. He embodied all the attributes that are associated with true countrymen.
“Born and bred an Exmoor man through and through, he loved his Devon patch and all the flora and fauna within.
“He lit up our TV screens with his enthusiasm and passion. He became a very proficient photographer and cameraman and his work became very sought after.
“The various Devon shows and in particular Barnstaple market will be a sadder place without his cheery presence. He will be sadly missed.”
Johnny was well known for a number of television series. Johnny Kingdom: A Year on Exmoor aired on BBC Two in 2006, and Johnny’s New Kingdom aired on BBC One two years later. In 2015 he presented a four-part series, Johnny Kingdom’s Wild Exmoor on ITV.
A statement from Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Police were notified just before 9pm on Thursday of a single vehicle collision in a field near Wadham Cross, Knowstone.
“It was reported that a digger had rolled over in a field.
“Emergency services attended the scene where a 79-year-old local man was pronounced deceased. His next of kin have been informed.
“Officers in attendance carried out an examination of the scene and enquires are ongoing.”
Tributes to Johnny
James Chapple, one half of Hopps and Chapple from The Voice FM, paid tribute to the ‘TV legend’ and said he was ‘absolutely gutted’.
“I remember meeting Johnny when I was about eight-years-old at an event at the North Devon Leisure Centre, and my dear Nanny Barb bought me a VHS wildlife video of his, which he signed,” he said.
“Always admired him and his work. In later life we were lucky enough to work with Johnny at various events, and interviews and he co-hosted the breakfast show one morning, which was a right giggle!
“Our condolences are with his wife Julie and his family at this difficult time.
“Rest in Peace Johnny - A Legend has been lost. x”
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