I watched the Trinny and Susannah show last week that showed the 100+ people walking all over the Long Man of Wilmington for a stunt to turn him into different shaped women. The show was incredibly cleverly edited to show the Pagan protesters as spoilsports with no point to make. In fact one woman interviewed implied that they thought we had ‘more right to the hill figure than anyone else’. After being there as one of the protesters on the day, I really wanted the whole thing to just finish now, as it was a very stressful time. However, it seems that the editing of the show presented us in quite a negative light (no surprise really!). So here is a few facts that didn’t make it into the show:
1) Our point was to protect the Long Man from erosion. There are signs on the fence beneath the hill figure asking that people don’t walk on him due to the dangers of soil erosion. We felt that showing 100+ people walking all over him to 7,000,000 viewers for a TV show stunt would encourage more people to do the same, and therefore threaten the very existence of the Long Man for future generations. Almost every year the figure suffers from some kind of vandalism. We feel that as people who love this Sussex figure, he should be protected. We at no point said that we, as Druids, had more right to the hill than anyone else.
2) During the interview in the car park area there were many women protesters who argued their point with Trinny and Suzanna. At no point during the show were these women shown. Only men were shown arguing, backing up their claim that they were empowering women, yet at the same time they were ignoring the views, in fact the very existence, of the female protesters present.
3) Off the record, after the encounter in the car park, Suzanna approached myself and another protester and said that she ‘had not idea that this would have been a problem, and that if it was up to her alone, she would call it off, but she couldn’t because so much money had gone into it.’
4) As the 100+ people walked up to the hill figure we had printed A5 leaflets explaining our case clearly so that they could be fully informed about the fragility of the site. They had all been instructed not to take our leaflets. Another point not presented in the show.
5) Only two people present were members of Woden’s Folk, and it was these people who were shown shouting abuse at the women. The Druid protesters were on the hill in the distance.
6) As the day came to a close both myself and another protester were asked to sign a form allowing ITV to show us on the program. We both refused, saying that this had not been about getting on the TV. However, after the Woden’s folk had signed, we felt that we should also sign the release form so that another approach to protest could be aired on the show.
7) After the show, the Sussex Past, who own the Long Man and had given permission for the stunt to go ahead issued this apology:
‘The Sussex Archaeological Society would like to apologise to representatives of the Pagan Community, or any other individual or groups, who might have been offended by recent television filming on the Long Man of Wilmington. It was not the Society’s intention to cause offence. The Society is proud of its curation of the Long Man. In future the Society will consult representatives of the Pagan Community and other interested parties before sanctioning any significant activities.
John Manley, CEO, Sussex Archaeological Society
July 16th 2007.’
Another point not mentioned on the show.
8 ) The Secretary of State gave this reply to one of the Druid protesters:
“Following my letter to you of 22 August, English Heritage wrote to (name) concerning the potential impact on the monument of the filming and associated activities. English Heritage also set out why it believes that there are insufficient grounds for a prosecution to take place under the terms of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. I enclose a copy of this letter for your information.
I understand that the production team involved in the making of the programme have already been informed that they should have obtained prior Scheduled Monument Consent. However, I agree that all concerned should be left in no doubt about their responsibilities in respect of our archaeological heritage. I have therefore asked English Heritage to write to ITV to help avoid a repetition of these events in the future.
Ensuring that the heritage protection system is accessible and inclusive, while providing an appropriate degree of protection to sites such as The Long Man of Wilmington and the Cerne Abbas Giant, is one of the core themes of the reform programme set out by Government earlier this year in Heritage Protection for the 21st Century. We are currently considering responses to this paper with the aim of publishing a draft Bill in the next session.”
This can only be seen as a successful result in the fight to protect our ancient monuments.
Here is the video we made on the day:
And another showing events on day one:
It’s my hope that we are wrong, and that the hill figure will not suffer more erosion due to the showing of this program, but already we have seen an increase in the people crossing the fence. Only time will tell. But I, for one, now want the whole sorry mess finished with.