Channel 4 heads to Kenya as Virginia McKenna’s Born Free airs this Sunday marking 50th anniversary of the famous film

Channel 4 will put the spotlight on Kenya this weekend as Virginia McKenna, award-winning actress and founder of the Born Free Foundation, returns to the setting of her 1966 film, Born Free, in a one-off documentary entitled Virginia McKenna’s Born Free to air at 7pm this Sunday 23rd October 2016.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the famous film based on Joy Adamson's autobiographical book which tells the endearing tale of Elsa the lioness in which Virginia McKenna and her late husband, Bill Travers, play Joy and her husband.

Adamson's Born Freefollows the story of how Joy and George Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness, an orphaned lion cub, to adulthood and released her into the wilderness of Kenya where she successfully made the transition back in to the wild and went on to have cubs of her own.

Following their encounters in the Kenyan bush whilst filming Born Free, Virginia and Bill went on to set up their own conservation charity, the Born Free foundation ( in 1998 for the protection of Africa’s wild life.

The Channel 4 documentaryVirginia McKenna’s Born Free will follow the 85 year old BAFTA-winning actress and her son and CEO of the Born Free Foundation, Will Travers, as they retrace their steps and return to the locations where the film was set in northern Kenya.

The documentary’s executive producer Paul Stead said, "The challenges Virginia and Bill faced in playing George and Joy Adamson went way beyond learning a script and portraying them accurately and sympathetically. With no CGI to create the interaction between human and wild animals in the 1960s, the actors had to work with real lions with all the dangers that presented. It was a massive risk, the film went way over schedule and budget, resulting in Virginia, Bill and their young family having to stay more than nine months in Africa. Despite the dangers involved this was a movie that changed the couple's future and would lead them to a lifelong campaign to keep wildlife living free. It's always a great treat as a producer to follow a journey that clearly means so much to those involved as this one does to Virginia and her son Will, who is accompanying his mother to Kenya."

Today guests can stay at Joy’s Camp in Shaba National Reserve ( and Elsa’s Kopje in Meru National Park ( which pay to Joy Adamson with Joy’s Camp even housing a small museum dedicated to her life.

To celebrate this milestone 50th anniversary luxury East Africa safari operator Cheli & Peacock Safaris have launched a bespoke Born Free Footsteps safari from US$5,758 per person (approx. £4,300).This exclusive experience includes visits to the film’s stunning locations and places of historical relevance to one of conservation’s original pioneering couples. The nine-day itinerary will also include a visit to a small museum in Elasmere Conservation Centre, displaying memorabilia from George and Joy Adamson’s work and in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, where visitors will have the opportunity to observe the abundance of wildlife that inhabit the reserve including its majestic big cats. For more information see  

Virginia McKenna’s Born Freewill air at 7pm on Sunday 23rd October on Channel 4.

See trailer of Virginia McKenna’s Born Free here:

For more information on Virginia McKenna’s Born Free visit: