Friday, 25 January 2013


In the wilds of Patagonia with a not so wild Chilean fox
I have been passionate about wildlife and it’s conservation since childhood and have been privileged to spend most of my life travelling the world making more than sixty wildlife films for all the major broadcasters – BBC, ITV, Nat. Geo. and Discovery.

Most of these films stressed the need to protect our planet’s natural resources and I have produced films about oceans, jungles, savannas, lakes and mountains. Film stories have included an extraordinary expedition to the New Guinea Highlands with Sir David Attenborough looking for natives that had never seen white men, polar bears in the Arctic, penguins in Antarctica, fish and whales in Alaska, tigers in India, leopards in Africa, mountain lions in South America and snow leopards in Ladakh – I like cats!

Closer to home, there are subjects that are just as important. Our freshwater world is threatened by lack of water [not recently!] and the UK has already suffered dramatic declines in fish and other aquatic wildlife.

The source of the gem-like River Allen
Chalk streams in particular have been ruthlessly exploited and damaged. There are only 160 chalk streams in the world and 85% of them are in England … so we have an international responsibility to protect them … and we don’t.

Chalk streams support some of the richest diversity of wildlife anywhere in Europe but we abstract the life blood out of them and kill the animals by the bucket load. Pollution is widespread, silt off farmland a nightmare for fish and invertebrates. Some streams have already dried up. Everything is Dead.

So as a life-long film-maker, my passion for the natural world and determination to try to make a difference is un-diminished. Over many years I have become increasingly aware of how almost all TV, the media and conservation organisations ignore our threatened freshwater world, notably the fish and other aquatic wildlife that lives below the surface.

Brown trout
Atlantic salmon
‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is a cliché but in the case of our fish life it is alarmingly true. We can’t see them, know little about them and as a result, don’t care. However, fish are a vital part of healthy ecosystems and without them, fish eating birds might suffer and even our otters will go hungry. So education is long overdue and showing adults and children is the key. Entering the water disturbs the wildlife but an under-water camera works a treat and within a mile of our home is the ideal location.

The crystal clear, chalk stream waters of the River Allen and the unique wildlife it supports makes it one of the most important rivers in Europe and for years it’s been my ambition to bring it’s fish and other watery wildlife into the consciousness of the local community.

'Liquid Gold' - the upper reaches of the River Allen
The river is only thirteen miles long but it is a little jewel flowing through the Dorset countryside. It provides a haven for species such as wild brown trout, the endangered white clawed crayfish and the fastest declining mammal in Britain, the water vole, this is just one of only a few rivers in England that achieve ‘good ecological status’. More than two thirds of our rivers fail and for starters, if we want to save them, we have to save water.

No doubt catching more than me
Freshwater is a vital element in all life, not least to us humans and if the river’s wildlife is to survive in the long term we need to ensure the community realise how important clean freshwater is.

My dream is to have permanent underwater cameras set in the River Allen, with viewing facilities for the public and school children in the Allendale Centre and Waitrose in Wimborne. These will provide live images to a  TV screen surrounded by educational material, along with a DVD player to show films and pre-recorded images that will be played when nothing is visible on the cameras in the river.
Some of them enjoyed the fish best!

Luckily, the Dorset Wildlife Trust, [who we’ve supported for thirty or more years], has a ‘Wild Rivers Project’, led in East Dorset by Amanda Broom. We needed £5,000 to put the screen and u/w camera in the river and DWT successfully raised the funding to do so. Bravo to them. The first stage is complete, with the screen and several school parties already taking advantage of this educational facility in the Allendale Community Centre alongside the river. The enthusiasm of the children is wonderful and with several talks and film shows with Amanda already completed, we have done a little to raise the profile of our precious fish and other wildlife.

roach and chub
There is a lot more to do and the u/w cameras will be installed in the autumn. In the meantime, we hope you too enjoy this little celebration of chalk streams and the wildlife they support.

One of the children watching the pike catching a perch exclaimed “ Cor Miss, that’s well ‘arsh”!

One of many school parties watching the film


  1. An exquisite evocation of idyllic childhood memories of the riverside.
    Astonishing underwater footage too

  2. Hello, this is great, very excited to see someone doing this. I work for Gaunts, where the river Allen runs through for 3 miles, it would be good to talk to you. you can email me at