Clarkson's Farm

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Clarkson's Farm
Clarkson's Farm Title Card.jpg
GenreDocumentary
Directed byGavin Whitehead
Starring
  • Jeremy Clarkson
  • Kaleb Cooper
  • Gerald Cooper
  • Charlie Ireland
  • Lisa Hogan
  • Ellen Helliwell
Narrated byJeremy Clarkson
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes8 (list of episodes)
Production
Running time40‒54 minutes
Production companiesExpectation Entertainment
Con Dao Productions
Amazon Studios
Release
Original networkAmazon Prime Video
Original release11 June 2021 (2021-06-11) –
present (present)

Clarkson's Farm is a British television documentary series about Jeremy Clarkson and his farm in the Cotswolds. It was first broadcast by Amazon Prime Video on 11 June 2021.[1] The series documents Clarkson's attempts at running a 1,000 acres (400 ha) farm in the Cotswolds, and it has received largely positive reviews. In July 2021, it was renewed for a second series.[2] In October 2022, the programme was renewed for a third series.[3]

Diddly Squat Farm[edit]

The farm was formerly part of the Sarsden estate in Oxfordshire. Jeremy Clarkson bought about a thousand acres (4 km2) in 2008 including Curdle Hill Farm. The fields were mostly arable, growing a rotation of barley, rapeseed and wheat. These were farmed on a contract basis by a local villager called Howard but he retired in 2019. Clarkson then decided to try farming the land himself.[4]

The farm was renamed "Diddly Squat" by Clarkson to indicate its lack of productivity,[4] as diddly squat is slang for "the least amount", "anything", or "nothing".[5][6]

Cast[edit]

Main cast[edit]

  • Jeremy Clarkson: a motoring journalist, television presenter and author who became famous as the host of Top Gear and later on The Grand Tour.[7] Having moved to Oxfordshire, he became part of the Chipping Norton set.
  • Kaleb Cooper: a young farm worker born in Chipping Norton who farms on his own account in Heythrop, but was engaged by Clarkson to assist him.[8] He has previous experience working on Clarkson's farm before Clarkson took over as farmer.[9] He advises Clarkson on the technical details of the tractor use and helps him with farming. He has rarely left the village of Chadlington and its nearby areas and has only ever been to London on a school art trip and as part of the documentary. He said that he hated the crowds so much that he stayed on the school coach. The only other place he has been to is Banbury.[10]
  • Gerald Cooper: no relation to Kaleb Cooper, he is a specialist in the construction and maintenance of dry stone walls, which form 40 miles of boundaries on the farm. His conversations with Clarkson are amiable but often incomprehensible due to his strong West Country accent.[10] He helps Clarkson harvest the grain; his 50th year of doing so as he is now 72.
  • Charlie Ireland: sarcastically referred to by Clarkson as "Cheerful Charlie", Ireland is a professional agronomist and land agent who advises Clarkson on farm management. He understands the agricultural aspects of the crops, the complex details of government regulation and the financial consequences. Rachael Sigee, writing for the i newspaper, described him as "chronically sensible ... a stickler for the rules who delivers increasingly bad news with the politely firm manners of a parish vicar."[11]
  • Lisa Hogan: an actress and Clarkson's girlfriend who assists with the farm, especially by running the farm shop.
  • Kevin Harrison: the chairman of the National Sheep Association and a veteran sheep farmer who advises Clarkson how to farm his flock of sheep.[12]
  • Ellen Helliwell: the shepherdess engaged by Clarkson to tend the flock of sheep which he acquired to graze his set-aside meadows. Her duties are shown to include lambing and shearing.

Other cast[edit]

  • Georgia Craig: Policy advisor at National Farmer's Union
  • Delwyn: Vet
  • Ellis: Part-time druid and a crew photographer
  • Les: Bowser owner
  • Alan: Shop builder
  • Simon: A combine harvester owner who Clarkson rents from

Episodes[edit]

No.TitleOriginal release date
1"Tractoring"11 June 2021 (2021-06-11)
Clarkson buys the equipment needed for arable farming – a tractor, cultivator, seed drill and other attachments. He spurns a traditional Massey Ferguson to buy a mighty Lamborghini R8 but finds that this is too large and complex for him to master easily. He tries to innovate but Kaleb scolds him about the results – irregular tramlines. Meanwhile, their cultivation and planting schedule is interrupted by torrential rain.
2"Sheeping"11 June 2021 (2021-06-11)
The farm has 300 acres which are set aside from crop farming. The DEFRA subsidy scheme requires these meadows to be mown annually and so Clarkson decides to get a herd of sheep. He buys 78 North Country Mules at auction and finds that they are difficult to control, even with an electric fence and barking drone. After trouble with lameness and the complexity of breeding with his rams, Leonardo and Wayne, he recruits Ellen to be the farm's shepherd.
3"Shopping"11 June 2021 (2021-06-11)
Clarkson sets up a farm shop to sell farm produce. This constitutes potatoes, which need to be sold quickly, because otherwise they would rot. Clarkson uses social media to advertise the shop resulting in a large number of customers.
4"Wilding"11 June 2021 (2021-06-11)
Clarkson decides to leave portions of his farm for nature, a process called wilding. He uses an excavator to dig a pond and form a wetland area. He builds a dam on a nearby stream for water for the pond, and adds 250 brown trout. He installs bird boxes for owls. He obtains four bee hives for honey for the farm shop and to pollinate his crops.
5"Pan (dem) icking"11 June 2021 (2021-06-11)
The COVID-19 pandemic hits the country. Farm workers are key workers and are able to keep working. The lambing season starts and Clarkson assists in the births. Clarkson decides to plant vegetables in a field instead of barley as pubs are shut and he believes that beer, which barley is used to produce, will not be sold in the same quantities. He re-opens the farm shop to sell the remaining potatoes, but customers are scarce.
6"Melting"11 June 2021 (2021-06-11)
A dry spell in April–May 2020 affects Clarkson's crops. He obtains water from a nearby stream, filling a bowser towed by the Lamborghini tractor, but this proves inadequate for his vegetables. He gives a virtual tour of his farm for an inspection for Red Tractor accreditation by Assured Food Standards. The 20 mature trees he had planted shed their leaves in the dry conditions. The sheep are sheared, but each fleece is worth less than £1.
7"Fluffing"11 June 2021 (2021-06-11)
Lisa stocks the farm shop, selling locally sourced produce. Initially, nothing in the shop originates on the farm, so Clarkson extracts honey from the bee hives. He harvests his wasabi plants and tasks Kaleb with selling them in London restaurants; Kaleb is unsuccessful in this endeavour as well as receiving a parking violation. The wasabi is placed in the farm shop where it does not sell and eventually rots.
8"Harvesting"11 June 2021 (2021-06-11)
Clarkson has logistical problems as the barley and rape are both ready for harvest at the same time. He manages to hire a combine but then has trouble storing the barley. The wheat, however, is good quality and fetches a good price from the local mill. Because the crops brought in £90,000 less than the previous year, due to the poor weather, Clarkson's profit on the year's arable farming is a meagre £144.

Reception[edit]

On Farming Today, Clarkson said that he listens to the BBC programme's podcast. The opinion of the active farmers interviewed was favourable.[13]

I thought it was remarkably good and entertaining. ... Many farmers will think that this is putting them and their experience over in a positive way ... There were some proper laugh-out-loud moments ... I am so inspired by the way that Jeremy Clarkson has talked about the industry and the people who have helped him ...

Other farmers were also reported to have shown an "overwhelmingly favourable" reaction to Clarkson's Farm.[14] The sheep farmer James Rebanks said that the farming community "all loved that programme", and that Clarkson had done more for farming in one series than 30 years of the BBC's long-running farming programme Countryfile.[15] Viewers have found the programme educational and entertaining, and that "they now feel much better informed about farming".[16] The National Farmer's Union has awarded Clarkson 2021 Farming Champion of the Year as "a vocal champion for the British farming industry", and producing that year a show that showcased the realities of farming and one that "has really resonated with the public".[17] Clarkson and his farm assistant Kaleb Cooper won the Flying the Flag for British Agriculture award at the British Farming Awards.[18]

Joel Golby, reviewing for The Guardian, found Clarkson's verbal signalling of his jokes by lowering his voice tiring, but the format, in which his blunders are corrected by no-nonsense country folk, works well, "It's simply, just ... really good TV".[7] Lucy Mangan wrote a different review for The Guardian a week later, but only gave it one star out of five. She was tired by Clarkson's role as an ignorant buffoon and called the show "wearisome, meretricious rubbish ... The series amounts to less and less as time goes on."[19]

Anita Singh reviewed the show for The Daily Telegraph. She liked the apparent authenticity of Clarkson's involvement in the farming, "...when you see Clarkson despairing at his crop failures, or yelping with delight when he helps to deliver a lamb, it feels genuine." She liked the supporting players, such as Kaleb and Charlie, and that "Clarkson’s gone soft, and it makes for surprisingly good viewing."[20]

Suzi Feay gave the show five stars in the Financial Times. She especially liked "...some of rural England’s more surprising characters ... Clarkson’s Farm features some unique types that are rarely spotted on screen."[10]

Hugo Rifkind, reviewing for The Times, likes Clarkson's "honesty of self" and appreciated both the good fun and the increasingly earnest engagement, "...you get to watch a familiar face grow smitten with his new life, coming to understand the responsibility of feeding Britain ... a quite lovely documentary series about life on a farm..."[21]

Marty Meany reviewed Clarkson's Farm for Goosed.ie, describing Jeremy as a "grown man playing Farming Simulator in real life", but whether you "love him or hate him, Clarkson’s Farm sees Jeremy return to his very best" after years of creating "blatantly scripted" television. Meany gave the show four and a half stars in his review.[22]

Following the release of the show on Amazon, the show was a popular success online, being rated five stars on Google.[23]

Clarkson faced a severe backlash from the people of Chadlington over the opening of the farm shop, which resulted in a 3-mile (4.8 km) traffic jam and necessitated the attendance of the police to handle the disruption in traffic. Later that day he took to Twitter, writing: "People of Chadlington. I’m truly sorry about the traffic around our farm shop last weekend. We are doing everything we can to improve the situation".[24][25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ James Croot (11 June 2021), "Clarkson's Farm: Sheep bring Amazon's Tour king down to earth in Grand new show", Stuff NZ
  2. ^ Marty (21 July 2021). "Clarkson's Farm Confirmed For Second Season". goosed.ie. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  3. ^ Morris, Lauren (28 October 2022). "Clarkson's Farm renewed for season 3 with "new characters" joining". Radio Times.
  4. ^ a b Steven McIntosh (30 May 2021), Jeremy Clarkson reveals 'heartache' filming farming TV series, BBC News
  5. ^ "diddly-squat". Merriam-Webster.
  6. ^ "diddly". Oxford Learner Dictionaries.
  7. ^ a b Joel Golby (5 June 2021), "I hate to admit it, but Jeremy Clarkson's farming show is really good TV", The Guardian
  8. ^ Norris, Miranda (26 June 2021). "'I can't walk through Chippy without being recognised': Kaleb Cooper on his newfound fame". Oxford Times.
  9. ^ Pritchard, Emma-Louise (21 July 2021). "Clarkson's Farm on Amazon Prime: Who is Kaleb Cooper, Jeremy Clarkson's sidekick?". Country Living.
  10. ^ a b c Suzi Feay (4 June 2021), "Clarkson's Farm on Amazon Prime is an agricultural gem", Financial Times
  11. ^ "Clarkson's Farm, Amazon Prime Video, review: Not only surprisingly tolerable, but insightful and fun", i news UK, 11 June 2021
  12. ^ Olivia Midgley (21 May 2021), "Sheepdog drone and OSR 'nightmare' - first glimpse of Jeremy Clarkson's farm", Farmer's Guardian
  13. ^ Howard Shannon; Anna Hill; Guy Smith; Emily Norton (17 June 2021), Farming Today, BBC Radio 4
  14. ^ Blackett, Jamie (9 August 2021). "'Jeremy is just like you': what real farmers think of Clarkson's Farm". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022.
  15. ^ Singh, Anita (10 October 2021). "Jeremy Clarkson 'did more for farmers in one TV series than Countryfile managed in 30 years'". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022.
  16. ^ Sitwell, William; Blackett, Jamie (11 October 2021). "Clarkson's Farm vs Countryfile – how the townie petrol head won over Britain's farmers". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022.
  17. ^ "Jeremy Clarkson named 2021 Farming Champion of the Year". Farming Life. 8 October 2021.
  18. ^ "Jeremy Clarkson wins farming award for Amazon series Clarkson's Farm". Oxford Mail. 23 October 2021.
  19. ^ Lucy Mangan (11 June 2021), "Clarkson's Farm review – Jeremy the ignoramus rides again", The Guardian
  20. ^ Anita Singh (11 June 2021), "Clarkson's Farm, review: The man's gone soft! Even Top Gear haters will find him likeable here", Daily Telegraph, archived from the original on 12 January 2022
  21. ^ Hugo Rifkind (12 June 2021), "Off Clarkson goes and buys the biggest tractor he can find", The Times, p. 7
  22. ^ Marty (15 June 2021). "Clarkson's Farm: Is This New Amazon Series Worth Watching?". goosed.ie. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  23. ^ Zasha Whiteway-Wilkinson (20 June 2021), "Jeremy Clarkson reacts as his farm show becomes massive hit", Gloucestershire Live
  24. ^ Andrea Oldereide (20 June 2021), "Jeremy Clarkson fans cause chaos with three hour queue to meet him at farm shop", Daily Mirror
  25. ^ "@JeremyClarkson". Twitter. 22 June 2021. Archived from the original on 21 June 2021. Retrieved 30 June 2021.

External links[edit]