She bought a £9m country estate, decked herself out in tweeds and declared her fondness for shooting pheasants, but Madonna’s bid to be lady of the manor has been thwarted by a birdwatcher.
Bill Oddie, the former Goodie and presenter of the successful Springwatch BBC series has been voted the face of rural England by more than 2,200 visitors to the Town & Country festival’s website.
Perhaps surprisingly given her run-ins with ramblers and relatively recent conversion to country life, Madonna took second place, ahead of housewives’ favourite Alan Titchmarsh. Otis Ferry, best-known for storming the Commons to protest against the hunting ban, finished fourth.
The list has been compiled by the Town & Country festival, which will entertain 100,000 people this weekend with alpacas, country crafts, morris dancing, vintage cars and motorbike stunts at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.
Despite his passion for the countryside and defence of rural values, the Prince of Wales only came 18th as respondents plumped for more fashionable “country” figures, including the young royal Zara Phillips in 10th place. The presence of the outdoor action man Ray Mears as the sixth best-loved countryman and the country chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in seventh appear to show how important popular TV celebrities are in promoting countryside ideals.
But more traditional representatives of rural England still featured strongly, with Worzel Gummidge popping up in ninth. Despite controversy about his campaigns against windfarms, the environmentalist David Bellamy finished in fifth while Jack Sugden (the Emmerdale character) came in eighth.
The survey showed respondents’ attachment to the rural idyll, with 75% declaring they would prefer to live in the country rather than the towns.
Helen Arnold of the festival said: “A few years ago, we would never have guessed that Madonna would make it to second place in a survey like this. It seems she is the queen of reinvention.”
source : guardian
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