Our Zoo, the BBC drama that tells the story of Chester Zoo is continuing to be a big hit with viewers, who are following the Mottershead family’s journey with great interest.
Last week’s episode saw the Upton community rallying together to oppose the zoo, and a scathing article appear in the local press from a skeptical journalist, while tonight's will see George concoct an idea to organise a charity benefit to raise money for the bear enclosure, following a chance encounter with an eccentric aristocrat.
But although Our Zoo may be a TV drama only based on a true story, the animosity towards the Mottersheads and their plans to build Chester Zoo, rings true, according to Upton historian Phil Pearn.
“It is a drama based on a story and they have made drama of the general gist of it, but there really was a lot of opposition to it because people just didn’t like change,” he said.
“My understanding is that there were aristocratic figures around at the time -which would explain the character of Lady Katherine in our Zoo. I believe it was the Duke of Westminster who supported Mr Mottershead at some point, so we weren’t all together surprised when we saw the character of Lady Katherine - there were some people who helped them out.
“You can understand - zoos are set up by authorities and to have this private person come in and basically say, ‘I want to build my own zoo without bars where animals can roam freely’, that was quite shocking to the community.
Our Zoo is shown on Wednesday evenings on BBC1 at 9pm.
To read more about the history of Upton, including at the time the Mottersheads took over the zoo, the book that Phil co-authored ‘Upton-by-Chester: A People’s History’ is available to buy for £7 at Bache Post Office.