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The Unknown Forest  (1961)

Summer in the New Forest

The first of many bewitching portrayals of his native New Forest, naturalist and world-renowned wildlife filmmaker Eric Ashby spent over four years gathering footage for this forty five minute BBC feature.
Contrasting what the forest tourists saw with the rich diversity of the unknown areas, this pioneering production is an outstanding example of Ashby’s lyrical filmmaking.

Providing a quiet and dignified view of the area’s remarkable wildlife population, Ashby used no controlled settings, filming badgers and foxes in natural light, which was at the time an astonishing accomplishment. Described by Peter Scott as the ‘silent watcher’ his hours of patient observation often only resulted in brief seconds of footage, but those images were widely acknowledged to be the best that had ever been seen.

A huge success, viewers appreciated Ashby’s effortless intimacy with his animal subjects, and The Unknown Forest became a landmark production for the BBC Natural History Unit. The co-founder of the Unit, Chris Parsons, commented that his excitement upon receiving the footage regularly sent by Ashby, was similar to “opening a birthday present as a child”.

Copyright holder

Copyright Holder: Eric Ashby
Copyright Holder: BBC - Natural History Unit
Address: c/o BBC Motion Gallery
Room E251
80 Wood Lane
W12 0TT
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 8433 2861 / 2

Film credits

Appearance: Gorden Scammell
Appearance: Susan Scammell
Appearance: Michael Scammell
Appearance: Betty Scammell
Film Editor: Paul Khan
Music Composer: Sidney Sager
Narrator: Johnny Morris
Photography: Eric Ashby
Photography: William Morris
Producer: Christopher Parsons
Production Organisation: BBC - Natural History Unit

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