News of the Natural World
Chapter 4: Stag
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The comic actor Steve Coogan in the ninth episode of his online sitcom Mid Morning Matters (2011) and in the guise of his celebrated alter ego, North Norfolk Digital radio presenter Alan Partridge, imagined a future scenario in which Britain’s ‘last osprey egg is stolen and scrambled for a Russian oligarch’s breakfast – who eats it without one iota of remorse.’ Coogan appears here to be satirizing the furore which had engulfed the UK news media just a few months earlier when another noble representative of Britain’s native fauna had been reported slaughtered, apparently at the hands of a wealthy foreign national.
On 27 October 2010 the second issue of the Independent’s sister paper i chose the shooting of a deer as its cover story. The story of the killing of the stag reputed to have been Britain’s largest wild animal and known as the Exmoor Emperor recurred in the pages of the UK’s national press for a fortnight, and included rumours of the beast’s resurrection and of the triumphs of his progeny. One might reasonably inquire why, in the words of Sarah Stride (interviewed for this chapter), the General Manager of the British Deer Society, ‘it appealed as a story on so many levels.’ Did the fate of the Emperor stag symbolize the demise of Britain’s greatness at a time of national austerity – coming as it did exactly a week after the publication of the British Government’s...
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