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Monday 10 June 2024

Why I Love Clarkson's Farm

 Jeremy Clarkson and Kaleb Cooper. Copyright Radio Times

Dear friends. I was never keen on Jeremy Clarkson during the Top Gear days. And The Grand Tour is even worse, because the stunts and the gents are so jaded.

So I was as surprised as anyone to find I LOVE Clarkson's Farm (Prime). We started watching as soon as it launched, back in June 2021. We were in another lockdown at the time and new programmes were quickly seized upon.

I always thought Clarkson was a boorish misogynist type, a perception only reinforced when he had a run-in with a BBC producer over the lack of a steak for dinner. This ended Top Gear with the line-up of Clarkson, May and Hammond.

But Farm reveals he's nowhere near as bad as some of the men of his vintage. Lisa, his girlfriend,  has her own tractor and helps out with the heavy work, like building a new car park. He was touchingly upset and empathetic when the pig breeding went a bit Pete Tong. 

More importantly,  he makes me laugh. It was a relief, during lockdown,  to burst out laughing at the escaping sheep. And in series 3, which we tried to eke out but couldn't,  when he was nibbled by goats.

Of course some of the show now appears quite staged. You can predict that when Clarkson does something foolhardy, or wrong, Kaleb and Cheerful Charlie will suddenly appear.  And I suspect he only does the foolhardy things to make us tut. It's all part of entertaining us. 

The most important thing about Clarkson's Farm is the education it's given us about the state of farming. 

Country File seems to avoid anything controversial and instead concentrates on content about beavers, red squirrels or ramblers denied walking paths.

WE HAVE LEARNT ABOUT ISSUES FACING FARMERS

Clarkson's Farm has exposed the shenanigans of the retailers, who drive prices down in a way that made dairy farming nonviable when milk was used as a loss leader.

Brexit of course did nothing for farmers. They lost their subsidies and the govt predictably doesn't have an agricultural strategy.  Farmers are urged to diversify, but when they try to do so, local councils turn down their plans.

Was there ever a council as foolish as West Oxford? Obviously heavily under the influence of the villager able to hire his own barrister to challenge Clarkson's plans, this lame duck council (no overall control) said No to anything put forward by Diddly Squat Farm.

OK, so Clarkson is an entertainer, as the wealthy villager maintained. But having a thousand acres doesn't make him an inconsequential farmer. And what he has been trying to do - rewilding, providing opportunities for local farmers to sell their products, allowing people to eat "nose to tail" in his restaurant and so on - is forward thinking that should be applauded.

Thankfully common sense prevailed in series 3 when a planning inspector overturned the ridiculous council's refusals.

I predict that Clarkson will next be seduced by lamas, and Pepper could become the centre of a petting farm.

I also predict a spin-off show for Kaleb, who's becoming a bit too big for his boots. As long as he doesn't take Gerald with him.

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