You would think as a farmer, the last thing I would want to do at home in the evenings is watch programmes on farming, but they have their merits. Check the weather for the week with Countryfile, or remind yourself “It could be worse!” with Our Yorkshire Farm… “I could have nine kids!”
The issue with programmes on farming and agriculture is they are actually quite dull. They don’t have to be like Saving Private Ryan, but there’s only so many times you can watch Matt Baker talking about his dog in the middle of a field before you are bored. So, when I heard that Jeremy Clarkson was to take on farming in Clarkson’s Farm on Amazon Prime, my ears pricked up and I was intrigued.
“I’m basically Allan Sugar in wellies!” Exclaims Clarkson, whilst moments later electrocuting himself close to tears on his fencer… What’s not to like about that?
With no knowledge of how to farm, the 61-year-old decides in 2019 that he would begin to run his £12.5 million farm in Oxfordshire. The show is funny, entertaining and insightful. However, as a farmer, it’s the relatability that stands out, he experiences the same struggles and strife as every other poor bugger praying for his grass to grow across the country.
For example, every farm has someone as incomprehensible as Gerald. An individual so isolated to their village that they have begun to formulate their own language of utterances and murmurs. Fellow locals can converse with ease, but as soon as you cross counties borders you might as well be listening to Greek.
Every farm has a single arch-nemesis – the weather. Clarkson is no different. The show was filmed across 2019 and 2020, which were devastatingly wet and dry respectively. Crops and soil are such delicate infrastructures and when margins on profit are so small, we rely heavily on hoping for breaks in the clouds in the winter and elaborate rain dancing in our flip flops in the summer.
On a personal level, I resonate a lot with Clarkson and his struggles. Most agricultural kids and Young Farmers are birthed on tractors. I, on the other hand, was brought up on a tractorless smallholding, meaning that, to me, they are big scary machines with what is frankly an unnecessary amount of buttons and levers that I think are mainly for show. Yes… I have punctured the odd £600 tyre and yes I have bent and smashed the odd gate, but I try and count it as a learning process from day to day.
Unusually, Clarkson isn’t really the star of his own show. Young contractor Kaleb Cooper holds the limelight. Funny, intelligent and terrified of leaving his home in the village of Chadlington, Kaleb manages to tare Clarson down a peg or two across the eight episodes. If you would like to meet a Kaleb, Tuesday evenings, down your local pub, you will find a dozen or so individuals with an encyclopaedic knowledge of tractors and trailers. These makeup what is known as your local Young Farmers Club; buy them a Jäeger Bomb and they’ll talk to you for hours.
I really can’t recommend this show enough. Clarkson’s Farm has done more for agriculture than Countryfile in nearly 25 years. Whilst being the usual entertainer, Clarkson displays his passion and love for the countryside and manages to put farming on the map.
By: Andrew Livingston