ASHLEY HARLEY: Born Free documentary brought back so many happy memories

Did you watch Virginia McKenna's Born Free documentary on TV recently?

Tuesday, 8th November 2016, 6:01 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:04 pm
Virginia McKenna

It was all about her return for the first time to Kenya and the locations used in the 1966 British film about the orphaned lioness Elsa reared by naturalist Joy Adamson and her husband George?

It was perfect fodder for Sunday night viewing and I really bawled my eyes out during this inspiring and touching programme.

Even my own little cats Tao and Aurora sat engrossed, one on each arm of the sofa like statues as their bigger, wilder African cousins thundered across the screen.

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Virginia and her late husband, Bill Travers, played the Adamsons in the film.

They even took their three young children along for the experience.

But I couldn’t help wondering whether that was a rather brave decision as it seemed a dangerous environment for them to be in.

The documentary brought back so many happy memories.

Born Free inspired my love of reading and the paperback was the very first book I bought from the school book club.

I still have it today, dog-eared and tattered having been well-loved and well-read.

The Adamsons moved back to London after freeing Elsa, but returned to Africa after a year.

There is a very moving moment when Elsa returns to greet them in an emotional reunion, along with three cubs of her own.

The one thing that was terribly heartbreaking to learn was that all the animals except two that were used in the movie were sent to zoos after filming ended.

It seemed totally and utterly wrong in a film that was saying all wild animals that are born free should live free.

Sadly, both Joy and George were murdered in separate incidents in the 1980s. But their work continues.

The film changed Virginia and Bill and, with the help of her son Will Travers, she set up the Born Free Foundation in 1984 with the motto ‘keep wildlife in the wild’.

I couldn’t agree more.


Are any of you ladies out there fans of subscription beauty boxes?

I’m a massive fan of the try-before-you-buy culture and am obsessed beyond the norm with the latest beauty products coming on to the market.

This is why these little monthly treats popping through my letterbox get me really excited.

So far this beauty junkie has signed up to Glossybox and My Little Box, which is French inspired.

Subscription boxes have really taken off in the past year or so. Even your pets can get in on the act now with a Barkbox for dogs and a Cat Hampurr for your feline friends.

The only downside to having so many products is I’m running out of cupboard space!


Half-term week proved to be spooktastic when I flew on my broomstick to The Ashcroft Arts Centre in Fareham to join in with its Halloween activities.

The pumpkin-carving was fun and it was lovely to see youngsters enjoying themselves as they created magical cats and scary goblins.

I was quite desperate to get my face painted and get into the spirit as a wicked witch, until a little voice piped up: ‘Miss, you don’t need make-up to look like one’.


I got messy making a bat out of an empty loo roll holder, reminding me of the Blue Peter ‘creations’ I made as a youngster.

The week was rounded off nicely by seeing a spiffing Halloween vampire comedy horror from New Apollo Theatre.