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WildFilmHistory » Home » Films » The Major

The Major  (1963)

The ringing stroke of the axe

The first BBC Natural History Unit production to be filmed in colour, The Major is a deeply moving account of an old English oak sadly destined to be felled. Central to village life, the Major acts as a meeting place and town notice board, and these images of local life are interwoven with intricate footage of the myriad wildlife that make this 'king of trees' their home.

Enlisting the talents of renowned wildlife filmmakers Eric Ashby and Leslie Jackman, this thirty five minute BBC film uses impressive photography to detail the vast range of birds, mammals and insects dependent on this colossal structure. Towering over the surrounding countryside, wood ants march along the oak's thick bark, as ladybirds feed on honeydew, and jays pluck its autumn acorns.

An emotive account of this strong, magnificent tree that has always had a special place in the English psyche, The Major was a brainchild of award-winning producer, and co-founder of the BBC Natural History Unit, Chris Parsons. Although initially broadcast in monochrome, Parsons saw the future potential of colour, and when the medium finally arrived in 1967, The Major became one of the unit's most repeated shows.

Copyright holder

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

Advisor: John F. Burton
Film Editor: Paul Khan
Lighting: George Shears
Music: BBC - West of England Players
Music Composer: Sidney Sager
Music Conductor: Sidney Sager
Narrator: Paul Rogers
Photography: Eric Ashby
Photography: Leslie Jackman
Photography: William Morris
Producer: Christopher Parsons
Production Organisation: BBC - Natural History Unit
Sound Mixer: George Pagan
Writer: Desmond Hawkins

Related links

Eric Ashby
Leslie Jackman
Christopher Parsons
Slaughtering tyrants of the leafy jungle
Slaughtering tyrants of the leafy jungle
Vast army that preys on the green flesh
Vast army that preys on the green flesh
The ringing stroke of the axe
The ringing stroke of the axe