The longest-serving presenter of the BBC’s popular series, Countryfile, John joined the programme in 1989. He learned his journalistic trade as a local newspaper, TV and radio reporter in Yorkshire before going national with his iconic John Craven’s Newsround. He presented Newsround for 3,000 episodes, tailoring daily news stories for a young audience and cementing his place in the memories of a generation of children’s television watchers. In 2000 he was awarded an OBE for services to rural and children’s broadcasting. His memoir, Headlines and Hedgerows, tells the story of his career and how people and animals have shaped his life.
In conversation with Festival host Stephen Moss on Monday 6 April at 8.30pm.
A wildlife gardener, radio and TV broadcaster, Kate edits the wildlife pages of BBC Gardeners World and writes for a number of publications including the Sunday Telegraph, The Countryman and The RHS’ The Garden. She transformed a garden for BBC’s Springwatch, which has been the subject of subsequent films on Gardeners’ World and Autumnwatch. She will be talking about her new book Wildlife Gardening for Everyone and Everything as well as her biographical The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, also recently published. The former shows how anyone can attract more birds, bees, frogs and hedgehogs to their gardens. The latter is Kate’s personal story of rewilding a small urban space in Brighton.
Speaking on Wednesday 8 April at 2.30pm.
In 2011 award-winning professional wildlife photographer Andy made a decision to focus on just seven species. Little did he know how that decision would change his life forever. As a result, a multi-book publishing deal, writing commissions, TV appearances, and a complete switch of career would follow. In his most recent book, The Secret Life of the Cairngorms, he has captured the world of elusive Highland wildlife, and revealed some of the national park’s most hidden places. Apart from producing his books, Andy has also appeared on BBC’s The One Show and Countryfile, and runs photography workshops, conducts masterclasses, and leads photo tours.
Speaking on Monday 6 April at 4.00pm.
Ben is a naturalist who has studied how Britain’s landscapes, wildlife and rural jobs can be regenerated in innovative ways in his recent critically acclaimed book Rebirding: Rewilding Britain and its Birds. He cites key reasons why we have lost so many of our once-familiar birds and proffers his vision of what can be done to get them back. Ben was a researcher on series such as The Hunt, Springwatch and The One Show for BBC, River Monsters for Animal Planet, and Deadly Islands for Discovery. As Field Director he worked on Sir David Attenborough’s Our Planet for Netflix, and as Assistant Producer on the Apple series Earth at Night and Tiny Kingdom, both due for broadcast in 2020.
Speaking on Wednesday 8 April at 8.30pm.
DR ERICA MCALISTER
The Senior Curator of Diptera at the Natural History Museum in London, Erica has a mission in life to change minds about flies, and she does so with humour and some mind-blowing facts. She is President of The Amateur Entomologists’ Society and has appeared on a number of TV and radio programmes, which have allowed her to communicate her passion for science to an audience beyond academia. Last year she published The Secret Life of Flies and now she has added to the popular science genre with her latest publication The Inside Out of Flies.
Speaking on Thursday 9 April at 4.30pm.
Lucy McRobert is a wildlife storyteller. Her first book, 365 Days Wild offers 365 ways to make nature part of your life every day. She is a columnist for Birdwatch magazine and has written for BBC Wildlife, Bird Watching, and the acclaimed Seasons. In 2015 she was placed 38th on BBC Wildlife’s first wildlife power list. Passionate about encouraging the next generation of nature conservationists, she co-founded the youth nature network, A Focus On Nature. She is also a keen birder and wildlife-watcher.
Speaking on Tuesday 7 April at 4.30pm.
STEPHEN MOSS – Festival host
One of Britain’s leading nature writers, broadcasters and wildlife TV producers, Stephen is hosting the Festival for the second time. Apart from his wide portfolio of television and radio production, he has written more than 25 books and is the Course Leader and Lecturer in Travel and Nature Writing at Bath Spa University and President of the Somerset Wildlife Trust. He will bring his extensive natural history knowledge to questions he poses to each of the authors, and he will also be sharing some of the unexpected places to find wildlife flourishing in the UK, which is the subject of his latest book The Accidental Countryside.
Introducing the guest speakers throughout the four days and posing questions at the end of each talk. Speaking about his own latest book on Thursday 9 April at 8.30pm.
DR HANNAH MUMBY
Hannah is an ecologist and conservation scientist who is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Hong Kong and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. She specialises in understanding long-lived, intelligent and highly social animals such as elephants, primates and wild boar. Learning how they live, think and feel is the route to ensuring their conservation. Her research work and encounters with elephants in Asia and Africa has led to her recently published account of her years in the field, Elephants: Birth, Life and Death in the Time of the Giants.
Speaking on Tuesday 7 April at 8.30pm.
Originally from that well-known Scottish county known as Englandshire, Tim is a wildlife photographer, author, biologist and tour guide. He has been visiting the Scottish highlands and Islands for over 40 years. A co-author of the latest in the WILDGuides series entitled Europe’s Sea Mammals this follows his first book Moray Firth Dolphins. Now living on the Black Isle where he is able to watch dolphins from his self-catering holiday business overlooking the Moray Firth, he also spends several weeks each year on Shetland working as a wildlife tour guide.
Speaking on Wednesday 8 April at 4.30pm.
Alan joined Perth and Kinross Constabulary in 1966, where he specialised in poaching cases. He later moved to CID, the Drug Squad and Wildlife Crimes. When he retired with the rank of Inspector in 1997, he became a civilian wildlife crimes officer and, in 2011, an Intelligence Officer with the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit. He has written a number of books, including Wildlife Detective that accompanied the BBC series of the same name. He will be talking about his latest book, Walking With Wildlife: A Year on a Scottish Estate, a fascinating account of surveying wildlife on a 13,000 acre Perthshire estate.
Speaking on Tuesday 7 April at 2.30pm.
BRIGIT STRAWBRIDGE HOWARD
Naturalist, wildlife gardener and champion of bees, Brigit is passionate about reconnecting herself and others with the natural world. In her book Dancing With Bees: A Journey Back to Nature, she recounts how she began a journey of discovery into the amazing worlds of animals and plants, and rekindling the wonder she was afraid that she had lost since leaving childhood. She shares her joy at forming a deep relationship again with nature and her fears about what the future holds for our important pollinators and what that will mean to all of us.
Speaking on Thursday 9 April at 2.30pm.