BAFTA award-winning actress Virginia McKenna heads back to her beloved Kenya where the classic movie, Born Free was filmed in the 1960s.

For those unfamiliar with the film, it was set in the late 1950s and detailed the work of game wardens George and Joy Adamson and their care of three orphaned lion cubs – Elsa, Lustica and Big One after George had been forced to kill their mother when she mistakenly thought he was a danger to her cubs and charged at him.

Virginia McKenna played Joy Adamson while her real life husband Bill Travers played George, but as there was no CGI or special effects back then this was a far more dangerous role than it would be today. It meant real live interaction with wild lions, and the production went over budget and over schedule which meant Virginia and her family had to stay in Africa for a total of nine months.

Since the time they starred in Born Free, Virginia and Bill worked tirelessly to keep wildlife living free, and in 1984 set-up the Born Free Foundation to keep this dream a reality to this day. Sadly, Bill passed away so Virginia recently took the journey to Kenya and the Born Free film location with their son in a moving documentary for Channel 4.

To really grasp the importance of this place and what Virginia and her husband accomplished here, you need to unpack some of the delights of this part of Kenya and of its living history. I’ll do this in a forthcoming article so watch this space.


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