A Joke Backfires
AoFW ep 18
The victorious animals behind the captured poachers
Episode Information
Series 2
Episode No. 5 (18 overall)
UK Airdate 4 February 1994
Written by Valerie Georgeson
Episode Chronology
Preceded by New Enemies
Succeeded by Home Is Where the Heart Is

A Joke Backfires is the fifth episode of the second series of The Animals of Farthing Wood. It was originally broadcast in the UK on 4 February 1994.


After a hard winter, spring is finally arriving. Food is becoming easier to find, so Fox decides to call off the food raids. Kestrel, Speedy and Whistler decide for a joke not to tell Owl. So Owl continues to raid dustbins and drop food for the animals. Meanwhile, Badger eventually asks Owl why she is still bringing food, and Owl is hurt that nobody told her. Owl flies off and spots the poachers entering the park, but cannot face telling Fox. She is beside herself with guilt when she hears a gunshot, and then hears that a fox has been shot dead. Owl believes that it is Fox who has been killed. Kestrel finds her extremely upset, and tells her that it was a young blue fox, one of Scarface's sons, who was killed. Scarface is furious that Fox has caused the death of his son, and gets Weasel to pass the message on to Fox. Fox is prepared to give himself up to the poachers, but Vixen persuades him that it would be a pointless sacrifice. The next time the poachers return, the deer herd chase them off by charging at them.

Vixen gives birth to four cubs, who are named Bold, Dreamer, Friendly and Charmer. Lady Blue has another litter of cubs, one is named Ranger. Mrs Rabbit also gives birth. Badger is worried about Mole, who is missing.

Kestrel brings the good news that The Warden has returned from hospital, though the poachers do not know this. The next evening the poachers return, shooting at anything that moves. Fox has an idea. He goes looking for the poachers and attracts their attention. They chase Fox through the park, as he leads them towards the Warden's cottage. Meanwhile, the other Farthing animals and the deer herd follow on behind. Near the Warden's cottage, the poachers take a shot at Fox, but miss. The gunfire attracts the attention of the Warden, who comes out with his gun to arrest the poachers. Behind them stands a victorious group of animals.


  • This episode marks the birth and first appearance of Bold, Charmer, Dreamer, Friendly, Ranger, Ranger's sister, and the additional baby rabbits, and the last appearance of the poachers.
  • On "The Challenge of Winter" VHS, some scenes were cut:
    • The first scene where Owl drops a cabbage to the rabbits.
    • Weasel and the White Stag and at the Stone Circle.
    • The White Stag's meeting with Fox, Vixen and Badger.
  • This episode also overlapped into the "Friends and Enemies" VHS, so "The Challange of Winter" VHS ends with Owl agreeing with Vixen saying how they value her. The two following shots were cut from both releases, so the "Friends and Enemies" VHS begins with the wardern's and then carries on up to the shot of the sun sitting low on the horizon before continuing with the shot where Dreamer is trying to wonder away from the group. Because of this, both encounters with the poachers happen on the same night.
  • On the "Friends and Enemies" VHS also, some scenes were cut:
    • Weasel's prank.
    • All the scenes between the herons wondering what Owl wants to the deer driving out the poachers.
    • All the scenes between the sun setting and Owl's meeting with Fox and Vixen.
  • Because both nights with the poachers overlapped on the "Friends and Enemies" VHS, Owl, when she saw the poachers coming into the park, flew off to alert Fox and Vixen instead of the herons. However the shot where Owl hooted to alert the herons remained on the release, as it overlapped with the shot where Weasel sighs with relief over the poachers' gun shot scaring Lady Blue away and stopping her from chasing her.
Series and Episodes
Series 1 (1993) • Series 2 (1994) • Series 3 (1995)
Series 1 episodes (1993)
The Wood in DangerThe Journey BeginsThrough Fire and Through WaterFalse HavenSnare for the UnwaryWho Shall Wear the Crown?New Friends, Old EnemiesFriends in NeedWhistler's QuarryBetween Two EvilsA Deathly CalmPandemoniumSo near and yet so far...
Series 2 episodes (1994)
A Heroes' WelcomeWinterSurvivalNew EnemiesA Joke BackfiresHome Is Where the Heart IsThe Feud BeginsLike Father, Like SonNarrow EscapesShadowsA Time of ReckoningBlood Is Thicker Than WaterReconciliation
Series 3 episodes (1995)
Comings and GoingsOut and AboutWater, WaterThe Missing Fox's FriendTiffs and TempersAdventure for the BirdsThe Long-Tailed VisitorScared Silly by SnakesA Bigger OinkThe Mole GameThe Worst Kind of HurricaneHomeward BoundBully-Bully-Bully