From the team at BBC Wildlife Magazine

Who is Simon King?

We introduce you to the naturalist, BAFTA-winning cameraman and presenter of Big Cat Diary, who has helped raise awareness of the natural world and the wildlife that populates it

Published: August 24, 2022 at 8:01 am
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He's someone that will be familiar to anyone who enjoyed the iconic Big Cat Diaries series, but did you know that Simon King is also a BAFTA-winning Blue Planet cameraman who first worked in television when he was 10?

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Who is Simon King?

Simon King is a naturalist, wildlife guide, stills photographer, author, cameraman, broadcaster and cinematographer.

In the 2010 New Year Honours, he was awarded an OBE for services to wildlife photography and conservation. The following year, he received an honorary fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society.

King was born in Kenya, where his father was working with the British Forces Broadcasting Service, but the family moved to Bristol when King was a toddler.

King's had a lifelong fascination for the natural world and first worked in television when he was 10, acting in a tv drama called The Fox. He then acted in several more TV dramas associated with wildlife, as well as appearing alongside his mentor, Mike Kendal, in two series of Man and Boy.

King's first film for television was a study of the wildlife surrounding a willow tree, created at the BBC’s Natural History Unit in Bristol. Since then, he has gone on to make more than 80 natural history films and documentaries as a cameraman, director and producer, as well as many more as presenter.

Which programmes has Simon King worked on?

For the BBC One series Big Cat Diary, King presented alongside Jonathan Scott and Saba Douglas-Hamilton, looking into the wildlife of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya, where the Marsh Pride of lions is based.

King documented the lives of these lions as part of the series. He has also contributed to Lion: The Rise and Fall of the Marsh Pride, a new BBC Two documentary focusing on the catastrophic decline in the world's lion population, using the renowned Marsh Pride as a case study.

King has co-presented episodes of Springwatch and Autumnwatch with Bill Oddie, Kate Humble, Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games. He has also appeared as a judge on Countryfile for the Countryfile calendar competition.

As a cameraman, he has worked on shows including Wild Africa and The Blue Planet, and has won BAFTAs for his work on Life in the Freezer and Planet Earth.

For the past 5 years, he has been working on Wild Isles as series consultant and principle photography. Wild Isles is a major new five-part natural history series from Silverback Films for BBC One and iPlayer, featuring the wildlife of Britain and Ireland. It is presented by Sir David Attenborough and will air in early 2023.

What does Simon King do now?

He has launched the Simon King Wildlife Project to educate and help people understand more about how we can live more harmoniously with the wildlife around us. The project began when King took stewardship of a ten-acre plot in Somerset, which he transformed from a barren grassland devoid of wildlife to a haven of wildflower meadows, 10,000 newly planted native trees and a lake. He began live-streaming images of the wildlife that repopulated the area, and created worksheets and downloadable information packs to engage viewers in the wonders of the natural world.

Which charities does Simon King work with?

As well as heading up his own wildlife project, Simon King is president emeritus of the Wildlife Trusts, president of the Avon Wildlife Trust and a patron of Somerset Wildlife Trust. He is also a patron of the Tusk Trust, which helps African elephants, and the honorary vice president of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, which supports wildlife projects across Africa and Asia. As a tree lover, the first film King worked on was based on the willow tree, a passion that has stayed with him. He is now an ambassador for the Woodland Trust.

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Main image: British wildlife cameraman and television personality Simon King attends the Edinburgh International Book Festival © Colin McPherson/Corbis via Getty Images

Authors

Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.

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