From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Genre News magazine
Presented by
Opening theme David Lowe
Executive producer(s) William Lyons
Running time 60 minutes
Original release 24 July 1988 (1988-07-24) – present
External links
Countryfile at the BBC

Countryfile is a British television programme which airs weekly on BBC One and reports on rural and environmental issues in the United Kingdom. It is regularly the most watched factual programme on any channel.

The show was first broadcast on 24 July 1988, replacing the long-running Farming which concentrated on agricultural matters. While farming remained a core ingredient, Countryfile held a much broader brief - to investigate rural issues and celebrate the beauty and diversity of the British countryside. Broadcaster John Craven started fronting the Sunday morning programme in 1989. It went from 30 minutes to an hour 14 years later. The most dramatic development in Countryfile's history came in April 2009 when it moved to Sunday evenings with Matt Baker, Julia Bradbury and John Craven. The new look and slot proved an instant success with the first prime time show watched by a peak audience of 6.3 million. Countryfile is now on 52 weeks of the year and includes a five-day weather forecast live from the BBC's weather studio in London. The rest of the programme is recorded, but it broadcast live for several weeks in 2001 to bring viewers the very latest on the Foot and Mouth crisis.

The Countryfile Photographic Competition remains a highlight of the programme's year. Viewers are invited to submit entries and the best make up a calendar sold in aid of BBC Children In Need. The 2013 calendar raised more than £1.3m for the charity, bringing the total donation to £6.3m.

Countryfile was originally produced by BBC Birmingham, moving to its new home of BBC Bristol in 2012. Spin-off programme include BBC One's Countryfile: The Summer Diaries, Country Tracks and Secret Britain.


Shows are typically centered on two lead presenters visiting a place or region, and uncovering the stories, characters and traditions which make that area distinctive. Typical subject matter includes wildlife, conservation, farming and food production, the arts, countryside crafts, social history and leisure activities. Presenters and guests are often wearing British country clothing, episodes may include several segments with other presenters, uncovering other stories in the region. Compilation programmes occasionally air with a thematic focus, with a reduced number of original segments typically featuring one lead presenter only, and several other segments repeated from previous shows.

Journalism remains an integral part of the programme's agenda. Tom Heap presents a weekly investigation into the big issues affecting the British countryside. Recent examples include the impact of animal diseases, the move towards renewable energy, environmental disasters, threats to rural services as well as changes to farming policy and practices.

Farmer Adam Henson joined the programme in 2001 following a search to find a new presenter amongst programme viewers. In 2009 he started fronting the weekly "Adam's Farm" strand which gives viewers an insight into the challenges of running a mixed farm in the Cotswolds. His father, Joe Henson, was one of the original founders of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

In 2013 the programme marked its 25th anniversary with a special edition guest-edited by HRH The Prince of Wales. Countryfile: A Royal Appointment saw the team joining the Prince on his Gloucestershire farm where he shared his passion for the British countryside, rare breed animals, organic farming and hedge-laying. Countryfile also accompanied him on a trip to County Durham to find out what’s being done to help struggling hill farmers before heading to a London comprehensive where pupils are growing and cooking their own food with remarkable results. The silver jubilee celebrations continued well into July when 250 viewers were invited to a traditional summer fayre held on Adam Henson's farm. The anniversary was marked by a new title sequence and re-versioned music composed by David Lowe.

October 2013 also saw the programme uniting with another BBC institution. Ireland went on to win Countryfile's One Man and His Dog, which was broadcast on 27 October.

The BBC's Countryfile magazine was launched in 2007 and is now published by Immediate Media Co. The current editor is Fergus Collins.

Ageism case[edit]

In November 2010, the BBC faced an employment tribunal following allegations of sexism and ageism brought against the corporation by ex-reporter, Miriam O'Reilly. O'Reilly sued the BBC due to the allegations following her dismissal from the programme in 2009, along with other female reporters, Michaela Strachan, Juliet Morris and Charlotte Smith.[1] It followed the decision to move the programme to a prime-time slot with a refreshed presenting team.[2] Former BBC One controller Jay Hunt told the tribunal the claims were "entirely and categorically untrue" as well as "profoundly distressing and utterly offensive," arguing that the only reason for O'Reilly's departure was because she was not recognisable to a peaktime audience.

On 11 January 2011, the employment tribunal found in favour of O'Reilly's claims on the grounds of ageism and victimisation, but not sexism.[3][4] The BBC accepted the tribunal's findings after what O'Reilly described as "an incredibly stressful 14 months."[5] The Daily Mail reported that O'Reilly would receive compensation of up to £250,000.[6]

On-air team[edit]

Main presenters[edit]

Reporters, Relief presenters and co-presenters[edit]

Former Presenters[edit]


  1. ^ 'Fir and loathing on the Countryfile set' The Independent 13 November 2010.
  2. ^ 'BBC producer wanted 'pretty' to replace 53-year old Countryfile star' Daily Mail 12 November 2010.
  3. ^ "Former BBC presenter wins ageism claim". The Spy Report. Media Spy. 12 January 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  4. ^ Countryfile's Miriam O'Reilly wins BBC age discrimination claim
  5. ^ "Miriam O'Reilly wins Countryfile ageism claim". BBC News. 11 January 2011. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  6. ^ 'Axed Countryfile presenter Miriam O'Reilly wins age discrimination case against the BBC' Daily Mail 12 January 2011.

External links[edit]