Farmers hail Jeremy Clarkson for championing British farming

The popular series showcased the realities of farming on Clarkson's Oxfordshire farm to millions of viewers
The popular series showcased the realities of farming on Clarkson's Oxfordshire farm to millions of viewers

A prominent shepherd and author has praised Jeremy Clarkson for doing more for farming in one TV series than the BBC's Countryfile programme has in 30 years.

James Rebanks, a sheep farmer from Penrith, Cumbria and award-winning author, made the comments at the Cheltenham Literary Festival.

He was asked what effect the hugely popular Amazon Prime series Clarkson's Farm had had on British agriculture's reputation.

“I can report back from within the farming community: they all loved that programme. They loved it,” Mr Rebanks said, reported in The Telegraph.

“Ok, he’s clowning around and he plays to that audience, and a lot of farmers are lads that like machines and they would have watched Top Gear and all the rest of it.

“But what they really liked is [that] they have been frankly p---d off with Countryfile for about 30 years because the whole logic of Countryfile is that you can’t make a mainstream, prime-time TV programme about farming because farming is for a niche group of idiots.

"And what Clarkson has come along and done is gone, ‘Actually, no, everybody will watch a programme about farming, you just need to do it in a certain way.’

"He sends himself up and in a funny way makes the two working-class rural men the heroes of the programme and that goes down very well in the farming community.”

The comments come as Clarkson was recently named NFU's Farming Champion of the Year for his 'work which has seen him champion British farming'.

NFU President Minette Batters The Grand Tour presenter had 'done his best' to showcase British food and farming over the past 12 months.

"His show has really resonated with the public, brought alive the ups and downs of our industry to a huge new audience, and transported British farming into the living rooms of families across the country,” she said.

The eight-part series followed Clarkson through his first year as he contends with the day to day challenges of running his own farm, amid the backdrop of an unexpected pandemic and some of the worst farming weather in decades.

Speaking about his own series to FarmingUK, the former Top Gear presenter said he wanted to present British farming in a different light.

“I think some of the farmers around here were concerned that the show would ridicule agriculture, which it absolutely does not do – it is a love letter to British farming,” he said.

“I was fed-up with television only showing farming as either someone bottle feeding a lamb in a cosy barn or as massive intensive setups on the other side of the world.

"What we wanted to do was to show what farming is actually like on an average farm.”

Amazon announced in summer that Clarkson’s Farm will return for a second series following the programme's huge success.

Fan Grabiner, head of UK originals at Amazon Studios, said Clarkson’s Farm was Jeremy’s 'unfiltered love letter to farming'.

“It is that authenticity, charm and humour, combined with the farm’s fantastic characters, which have made the series such a remarkable hit with audiences," he added.

“We are delighted to be joining the team for another year-in-the-life of Diddly Squat, and wish Kaleb and farmers across the country luck as Mother Nature continues to take revenge on Jeremy.”