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‘Clarkson’s Farm’ Review: British TV’s funny and embarrassing uncle

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At the age of 20, I thought that maybe I’d grown out of Jeremy Clarkson. I used to enjoy Top Gear: the exploits of Jezza et al. and their brand of laddish humour, but more recently I prided myself on the idea that I had outgrown it. With this dismissal and apparent maturity, I made it a point of principle that I would not be watching any of ‘the boys’’ Amazon projects. Thankfully, I lifted my boycott to chance Clarkson’s Farm, and it was completely worth it!  

Clarkson’s Farm follows a simple format. This eight-episode long docu-series charts Clarkson’s attempts to make his farm, with its vast acreage, into a proper working farm. In each episode he focuses on a different challenge but frequently revisits other themes, providing a succinct picture. It’s a great series and the formula is perfect: it shines a new and endearing light upon both Clarkson and a topic which many of us, in the digital age, are more distanced from than ever. 

The series opened my eyes to something that I have been woefully under-informed about, and it has done so in a highly entertaining and well thought out way. The complexities of ploughing fields and sowing seeds and the vulnerability of crops, combined with farmers’ reliance upon the climate and weather cycles, are all things which I had never thought quite so much about. 

The show conveys farming life in a candid fashion, not skimping on informing us of its very real dangers

While Clarkson might not have been reliant on the income from his fields, it didn’t take much imagination to think about the farmers for whom flooding and the incidence of rainfall are matters of serious consequence. The show conveys farming life in a candid fashion, not skimping on informing us of its very real dangers. Clarkson’s approach, as a novice sometimes using trial-and-error methodology, is also a great source of endearing humour. His interactions with Kaleb (a man whose wit and personality merits a TV show of its own) really help Clarkson’s Farm stand out and appeal to a multi-generational audience. It’s also an aspect of the show which brings back fond memories of Top Gear and Clarkson’s TV charm from back in the day. 

Yes, the series still contains a lot of his questionable narrational style and sometimes coarse humour. Mercifully, such issues are more than compensated for by the somewhat zany array of locals and farm workers employed by Clarkson. These interesting figures are on hand to humorously reprimand and aid Clarkson – not to mention his girlfriend, without whom Clarkson would be unable to achieve anything. 

Clarkson’s Farm has given me a renewed faith in the magic of TV. My initial wariness and aversion to the show and the man himself was something personal, and it certainly meant I found some of his humour quite jarring in the show itself. The laddish, petrol-head culture that surrounds Clarkson is something I’m simply not interested in, but also something that I am wary of. Clarkson and his associates represent the kind of man that I don’t want to become and am often uncomfortable interacting with. I assumed Clarkson’s Farm would be prosaic, much like his other TV projects, but since watching it Clarkson has been substantially vindicated. 

Yet considering the quality and success the show has so far experienced, it will come as some surprise that its future is uncertain. Amazon has not renewed it for a second series. We could be sad about this for sure, but it might be for the best. One season of Clarkson’s Farm is really all you need. Considering the rather impressive feat they have achieved (of making an entertaining farming programme), we shouldn’t demand too much. 

Maybe the series will be a springboard for other shows, playing on an unoriginal yet easily marketable idea, and Amazon could experiment safely and profitably here

What avenues could a second series even go down? Season one is a comprehensive, bingeable, and enjoyable watch but it feels like a second season would only have the potential to be more of the same. But considering how successful and popular the show has been, especially in deviating from Clarkson’s primary hobbies, it may be inevitable that Amazon produces another series. 

Clarkson’s Farm is also a good tool in the Amazon arsenal, proving that Prime is still a player that can hit hard on our screens, albeit rarely. Maybe the series will be a springboard for other shows, playing on an unoriginal yet easily marketable idea, and Amazon could experiment safely and profitably here. Hammond’s “Cattle Ranch” or May’s “Labour Camp” could certainly be entertaining and profitable. 

But let’s not get distracted from what Clarkson’s Farm has achieved and what the programme, sometimes intimately, documents. I now have a new appreciation for farming, and at a time when more than one farmer a week commits suicide in the UK, now more than ever we should think about our fields and our farmers.  

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