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Last Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007, 19:00 GMT 20:00 UK
BBC presenter Phil Drabble dies
Phil Drabble
Phil Drabble also wrote several books on wildlife
The long-serving presenter of BBC TV's One Man And His Dog, Phil Drabble, has died at the age of 93.

Mr Drabble, who hosted the BBC Two show from 1976 to 1993, died on Sunday at his home in Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, the corporation said.

The presenter, a widower who received an OBE in 1993, was a naturalist and author of several books on wildlife.

Mr Drabble was the original presenter of the programme, which attracted eight million viewers in its heyday.

Forthright opinions

"When the BBC first asked me to present the programme in 1975, I refused because I thought it would be too boring for words," he said when he left the show in 1993.

"The viewers didn't think so, but I'm amazed it has lasted this long."

The programme continued with Robin Page as presenter but ended in 1999.

Mr Drabble, who grew up in Bloxwich in the West Midlands, was renowned for his forthright opinions - referring to the then Ministry of Agriculture as "monumental incompetents".

The Queen also sought his expertise on wildlife matters.

Mr Drabble said: "She was having trouble with her liberty budgies at Windsor being attacked by hawks, and although she is a good naturalist she wanted my advice."

Nature reserve

His career as a writer, broadcaster and wildlife expert began in middle age.

Before that he was a factory worker in the Black Country, climbing up the ranks to management level.

He and his late wife Jess, who died 18 months ago, devoted their time to their 90-acre woodland nature reserve.

Family friend Ruth Froggatt said Mr Drabble had continued to write after he retired from the programme.

She said: "He was writing well into his 80s and it was only in the last few years that he hadn't been so well."

Roly Keating, the controller of BBC Two, said One Man And His Dog had achieved "cult status for sheepdog trials".

"Phil Drabble brought the countryside into the homes of BBC viewers and listeners and became one of the BBC's best loved faces and voices," he said.

"He will be remembered with deep affection and gratitude by millions of viewers and listeners who will mourn his passing."

The game's over for One Man and His Dog
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