ADVENTURER Ed Stafford will be hitting the screens again this evening as part of a Channel Four documentary on the lives of gypsies and travellers.
The 46-year-old explorer will be fronting ’60 Days With The Gypsies’ as he films more than two months of time spent living among the travelling community.
A celebrated survival and bushcraft presenter, Stafford is charged with finding out what its like to live a nomadic life at a time when new laws threaten to compromise an ancient lifestyle – laws that may also have implications for wild camping.
Episode one will be shown tonight at 9pm, with episode two set to air on Monday February 14 at 9pm.
Stafford aims to present an honest, revealing and entertaining look at one of Britain’s most private groups. With proposed new legislation giving police increased powers to move encampments on, he joins families of Gypsies and Travellers facing fines of up to £2,500, possible confiscation of property and up to three months in prison if they break the law.
Living with Gypsy and Traveller communities across the country, Ed questions everything we think we know about their way of life as he experiences their centuries old traditions by spending time with them on the road.
Immersed in Gypsy life, Ed will delve beneath the stereotypes to find out what it’s like being one of the most marginalised and vulnerable groups in society – living on its verges, outside of its rules – and, sometimes, outside its laws. He reveals the challenges Gypsies and Travellers face in modern day Britain and seeks to understand the behaviour he encounters on the fringes of the community.
Episode one – Monday February 7, 9pm
In the first episode for Channel 4, the explorer hits the road with his caravan and joins families of Gypsies and Travellers across the country as he questions everything we think we know about their centuries old way of life.
In Chichester, Ed hooks up with a group of families who have set up camp on the side of a busy A-road next to a housing estate but is empathetic to their cause when they’re evicted after only three days.
In Manchester, Ed learns how to live off the land and hears from the men of the group about the persecution they face as a community.
In Cornwall, Ed joins a group who have settled on a car park in the middle of Newquay where he teams up with one of the dads, David and his son, learning that it’s not unusual for children within the community to leave school at 11. Ed also experiences the cycle of eviction – having been there for just six days, he and the group are moved on.
In Matlock, Derbyshire, Ed meets a family with vulnerable elderly who are camping on the edge of the town’s railway station car park while they await news of a permanent council site.
Episode two – Monday February 14, 9pm
In episode two, he meets Cheyenne – a 22-year-old single mum with two young children who’s struggling to find a site to stop on. Ed discovers a community that’s viewed with mistrust but steeped in tradition and increasingly forced to live on the edge of society, including John, a Gypsy who deals in scrap metal and spends part of the year on the road and the rest of his time on a strip of land beside a roundabout in Dorset.
He also attends the infamous Appleby Horse Fair – the biggest gathering of Gypsies and Travellers in the UK. It is potentially under threat because proposed new legislation will make it harder than ever for Gypsy and Traveller caravans to make the journey to Cumbria for the annual event.
A march to protest the proposed new Police Bill marks the end of Ed’s time with the Gypsies. Throughout his 60 days, Ed encounters stories infused with warmth, humour, and joy – in many cases the people he meets subvert expectations – but he also doesn’t flinch from the gritty, dramatic and emotional issues the community wrestles with on a daily basis.