Countryfile viewers have reacted with fury after John Craven revealed a winning image of its £1,000 photography competition had been taken in a studio.
Michelle Howell's 'An apple a day' - which shows a harvest mouse nestling inside an apple - was the overall winner of the programme's annual calendar competition, which raises money for Children In Need.
Craven visited Howell's house in West Yorkshire and showed viewers how to set up the shot. At one point he began whispering to the mouse, 'Go on, get into the apple'.
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Michelle Howell's 'An apple a day' - which shows a harvest mouse nestling inside an apple - was the October finalist in the programme's annual calendar competition, which raises money for Children In Need. Pictured: John Craven next to the winning image
Craven met the winner - and revealed her photograph had been taken in a specially built studio inside her house
Many fans of the show were furious to learn it hadn't been taken in the wild with some even accusing it of being a 'cheat' entry
Some of the critics may have been entrants would were annoyed their genuine wildlife images had lost out to a staged one
Introducing the winning shot, Craven explained that is was permissible to submit staged photographs as long as this context was explained
One viewer mocked the decision by posting a photo of a stuffed toy badger and joking it was his '2020 entry' to the competition
Many fans of the show were furious to learn it hadn't been taken in the wild, with one writing: 'I was quite shocked that the #countryfile wildlife photography competition was won by a photo of a mouse shot in a studio. Surely if it's not out in the wild it's not wildlife?'
The 2019 competition was called Beauty and the Beasts and asked photographers to contribute images of Britain's 'landscape, wildlife, agriculture or recreation'.
'An apple a day' won for the month of October, and was also chosen as the best image overall, meaning it will grace the calendar cover. Mrs Howell also received £1,000 in vouchers to spend on photography equipment as a reward.
Introducing the winning shot, Craven explained that is was permissible to submit staged photographs as long as this context was explained.
'To take this photo she used a studio so she could get up close to her subject,' he said. 'Taking photos in this way is in the rules, as long as it is declared as such.'
Explaining why she used a studio, Howell said: 'There's just no way you could take this picture in the wild. You're not going to come across a harvest mouse in an apple while you're walking along a path.'
But critics were not convinced, with viewer Emma Poulton writing: 'Dear @BBCCountryfile Your winning photo is a cheat! Surely the whole point of the calendar photo competition is to