One of the early producers for the BBC Natural History Unit (NHU) and a dedicated wildlife conservationist, Dilys Breese was brought up in Wales, UK. At university, Dilys graduated with an MA in English Literature and Language before applying for a traineeship as a studio manager for BBC radio.
Whilst reporting on general interest and news programmes, such as Woman’s Hour and Home this Afternoon, Dilys’ passion for wildlife grew, and by 1970 she was producing the majority of Bristol’s natural history output, with presenter Derek Jones. Together, they successfully created popular shows such as The Living World and Wildlife, in which the public’s wildlife questions were answered by scientists, academics, naturalists and representatives of organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).
In 1970, Dilys moved departments to the BBC Natural History Unit (NHU) and started producing for popular natural history television strands The World About Us, Wildlife on One and The Natural World. Over the next twenty years Dilys worked as a series producer and scriptwriter, working on groundbreaking films such as Nightlife, the first natural history film recorded in stereo sound, and Trivial Pursuit: The Natural Mystery of Play which was watched by an impressive 12 million viewers. She produced many award winning films including In Flight Movie, an investigation into ornithological flight that won at the New York International Film and TV Festival and at the Wildscreen film festival in 1988, and Meerkats United which was voted the best wildlife documentary of all time by BBC viewers.
Throughout her life, Dilys was committed to conserving wildlife and became a council member of the BTO in 1973. She was awarded the BTO’s Golden Jubilee Medal for outstanding service to the trust in 1983, before becoming Honorary Secretary from 1998 – 2001. Dilys left the BBC in 1991 and set up her own company Kestrel Productions, where she produced The Advance of the Armadillo and several short programmes until ill health intervened.
Upon retiring, Dilys diligently continued her conservation work in her home town in Wiltshire, successfully campaigning for the preservation of ponds, woodland and a nature reserve in the churchyard in which she was eventually buried in 2007.
The BTO honoured her memory by creating the Dilys Breese Medal, recipients of which include Stephen Moss, Brett Westwood, Tony Soper and Fiona Barclay. The award is given annually for excellence in communicating the work of the BTO and promoting bird conservation both nationally and internationally.