Countryfile, BBC television, 1999
Segar: I want to know about crop circles.
Bower: You’re certainly in the right place here [they are in the Percy Hobbs pub at Cheesefoot Head]. Dave Chorley, my friend, and I sat in this pub every Friday night for ten years, just talking about art. And then, for the next fourteen years we decided that we would do some crop circles. The crop circles, we wanted people to believe that flying saucers had landed during the night. You see, our circles were circular, UFOs - flying saucers - were circular, so as soon as they spotted them [at] daybreak, they would say, ‘Hello! A flying saucer has landed during the night.’ But unfortunately, two years ago, Dave died... so that leaves me here, drinking my pints by myself.
Segar: What’s the first thing you have to do, then, if you want to make a crop circle?
Bower: We’ve got to make sure that everything’s looked at in daylight, otherwise it can be dangerous. I mean, you just imagine, if you’re jumping over a barbed wire fence and your foot slips. I mean [laughs], I don’t have to tell you. I mean, you wouldn’t be in any fit state to do crop circles, would you?
Segar: Have you done many fields round here?
Bower: You see this field over here on the right, er Rupert? [They are in a car, driving around the Cheesefoot Head area] Now, that’s one of our favourite fields. We did quite a few in there. Well, in fact, I think you’ll find that we went into that field every summer for fourteen years.
Bower: [They are now on foot, apparently at the Strawberry field, near Cheesefoot Head] This is a very important field here, Rupert. This is where the first circle was put down in 1978. We walked from the pub and we went into this field one lovely night, and we put the first circle down. It’s not the only thing that happened here, you know. Because, if you turn round, and look up there to that hill [points]...
Segar: There? [points]
Bower: ... which is Telegraph Hill, and it was there that I was suddenly hit on the head which I thought [was caused when] a farmer had thrown a stone at me, [but in fact] it was the outlet of the toilet from a jumbo jet which was frozen, fell off [?] coming down through the warm air, by the time it hit me it was just sludge.
Segar: So you’d been kiboshed by a bit of frozen sewage?
Bower: That’s right, yes, yes.
Bower: [driving in the car] I feel sorry for the farmers, especially when you tread a lot of corn down, I mean, it’s erm...
Segar: Your designs were quite small?
Bower: Well, they were, yes. I mean, er, 60 [or] 70 feet across, and a few of the little corridors and things. Most of the damage was caused by the people going in to look. Our remains of treading down, you could have salvaged it with a... by lowering the cutters of the combine.
[Voiceover states that after their first three years circle-making (1978-81), no-one was taking any notice]
Bower: The problem was, we were starting off in flat fields, you see, because what we really needed was somewhere where the general public could look down on the circles that we were creating. And then suddenly the Punchbowl was ploughed and we knew then that crops would be planted there, and then we couldn’t wait for the summer to arrive because we knew then that we had a chance of, erm, getting the publicity that we really wanted.
Bower: So, we used to mingle and rub shoulders with them [researchers] to listen to all the conversations [so] as to get their opinions as to what caused it, you see, and of course David would be over about ten yards away on one side of the group, and I’d be over here laughing, and, erm... Then of course we got to know the researchers, you see, and, erm, I said to one researcher, I said, ‘Well, I’m a wildlife sound recordist, I travel around quite a bit’. I said, er, ‘If I spot any circles, would you like me to let you know?’ He said, ‘I would.’ So I used to... after we did a circle we used to ring him up in the morning, and say there’s one at so-and-so
[Brief interview clip with Bower’s wife]
Ilene Bower: [Speaking about the issue of the high mileage she noticed in their car] In the end I just said to him, ‘Can you tell me what all the mileage is about?’ He then went over to his studio, brought back all the press cuttings, showed them to me, he said, ‘Well, that’s what it’s all about.’ I said, ‘well, what does that prove to me?’
Segar: You mean you didn’t believe him?
Ilene Bower: Well! Not just like that, no! I mean, newspaper cuttings could have been [corrects herself] referred to anyone, couldn’t they? So, he said, ‘Well, what do you want me to do to prove it to you?’ I said, ‘I’ll select a design, I’ll select a field - and you can do it the next evening, and then you can take me and show me that you’ve done it.’ And this is what he had to do.
[Returns to Doug Bower]
Bower: [Talking about Project White Crow] They set their cameras up to look down into the Punchbowl, and they were sat there night and day for seven days, hoping to get the answer to the circles, you see. And David and I had fallen out for a while during that time and there was no circles being created. And I said to my wife after coming back from a meal one Saturday evening, I said ‘I’m going to park the car, walk down behind them and put a circle down.’ And lo-and-behold they spotted it in the morning and [it] pleased them no end.
Bower: We were a bit disappointed about 1986 when the copycat hoaxers started in different parts [of the country] especially up in Wiltshire, around Avebury and Silbury Hill, all those important places, you see, because in... previously these so-called researchers, they connected our circles with burial mounds and, er, ancient hill forts. There’s no connection at all! It’s just that the field was good, as far as we were concerned, to have a bit of a laugh.
Bower: Well, had it not been for Dr Terence Meaden, we would have continued to do just plain circular... circular marks to make [observers] sure that the UFOs had come down like that, you see. But when he came on the scene, he said it was wind vortexes and we didn’t like that at all, so we had to think hard, [about] just what we could do to sort of keep Dr Meaden quiet. So we invented the pictogram, which means that from the circle you make corridors out with other circles, half-circles, lines and all this sort of thing. Dr Terence Meaden then resigned a little bit from the whole story.
Bower: [Towards 1991] Well we thought the whole thing was getting a bit out of hand after... after 14 years, and, er, I thought well, if we release the story [changing tack] it wasn’t for the publicity, because otherwise we’d have been searching for publicity during those 14 years. We didn’t want any publicity, we were only having a laugh over it.
[The program now starts covering a covert night-time circle-making project involving Bower and ‘the lads from London’ (John Lundberg, Wil Russell and Rod Dickinson, who elsewhere call themselves ‘The Circlemakers’). The London team make a complex circle design, while a few yards away, and working independently, Bower makes his own circle with presenter Rupert Segar. Doug’s design is similar to the Swastika of 1989. Bower’s circle ends up being twice as wide as intended, and he is unable to finish before dawn. The London team, who have finished their own formation, then arrive to help complete it. They are then all interviewed together, and there is some dialogue between Bower and Dickinson (below).]
Dickinson: [Speaking to Segar] We’ve basically expanded on a lot of the ideas that Doug’s original circles had, and, er, made them slightly more complex, with more complex geometry, and, erm...
Bower: [To Dickinson] Slightly more? [Both laugh] I admire what you people have done.
Dickinson: [To Segar] I mean, you know, I think it’s just a logical progression, really. And I actually think if we hadn’t have done it, someone else would have done it.
Bower: [To Dickinson] Well, I’m beginning to think I was programmed to do all this... [gestures towards the sky] by some force. [Dickinson (off camera) seems to be amused]. No, I really am thinking that. It’s affected me quite a lot. And, erm, I think there’s something behind it, all the more than we know of.