HE’S Britain’s biggest petrol head but even eco warrior Greta Thunberg might actually enjoy Jeremy Clarkson’s new farming show.
Jeremy says he has been at his happiest in his new role as a farmer
Jeremy swaps his usual fast cars for a vintage tractor
But he also backs his fellow British farmers, who he says try their best to appease tree huggers, and he declares: “Farming must continue or we will all starve to death.”
In an exclusive chat, Jeremy says: “I’m trying. But I’m also trying to grow food. Most of all, I’m trying to grow food but I’m trying to cause the least amount of damage.
“And I’m no different, from what I gather, to any other farmer in the country. Yes, I’m going to use fertiliser, I’m going to use insecticides. But I’m also trying not to ruin the landscape.
“The central message is, this is farming in Britain today. It’s not bad. Please buy British food.”
But Jeremy, 61, says: “OK, here’s the deal. Farming must continue or we will all starve to death.
“That’s as simple as that.
“I put up owl boxes, I put down turtle dove mix to attract one of the most endangered birds in Britain, we’ve created a sort of boggy area for insects and lizards and so on to come and live.
“And we even have otters living there now.
Jeremy met opposition to his produce shop at Diddly Squat
“So we’re doing our bit for wildlife, and we spray everything with glyphosate (herbicide), because if we tried to do it organically it wouldn’t grow and then you would have nothing to eat.
You can either have relatively inexpensive food, or you can have some wildlife park full of f*ing ramblers.
“If you allow farmers to just tread the middle ground, look after the land, the animals and nature as best they can, and provide food, to me that seems the best way forward.
Farming must continue or we’ll starve to death. I’m trying not to cause damage. But most of all I’m trying to grow food
“Being ridiculously woke about it and saying, ‘We must all just be turned back to nature’, is plainly idiotic. Similarly, ‘It must all be torn down and turned into Alberta, or bits of Canada’, is also idiotic.”
Even so, Jeremy now accepts the reality of climate change, after seeing the effects on a visit to Cambodia in 2019, and when he began cultivating his land in Oxfordshire the same year.
He says: “You’d have to be a fool to say the weather isn’t changing, because it is. I have sure as hell seen it while I’ve been trying to farm.
“I think it’s right to say in the 12 months we filmed the show there were five different weather records.
“It was hotter than it had ever been in the spring, wetter than it had ever been in the autumn, and so on.
It’s really complicated and really difficult. Get it wrong, someone shouts at you. But sometimes I think…this is great
“And then we’ve just had the coldest April for 60 years. The weather has gone nuts.
“But I have the same argument that I have when Sir Attenborough tells us about coral. ‘Oh, the coral can’t stand half a degree warmer, it’s all dying’.
“Well, why doesn’t it just move a bit further north, where the sea is a bit cooler? Which is what I do if I was a coral. I’d go and live in the Humber Estuary.”
He continues: “I’m still growing wheat to make bread but I’m also trying to grow durum wheat, that makes pasta.
“That likes a hot, dry climate. If the climate is changing, and it’s going to be hotter and drier, I shall grow wheat that likes hot, dry climates, rather than go, ‘Ooh, it’s the end of the world’.
“It’s going to be warmer, well fine. We must all buy T-shirts and eat more pasta, rather than sailing around the world shouting at politicians.”
The new fly-on-the-wall documentary starts with Jeremy shocked at some of the costs of farming.
He says: “Lost a fortune on the sheep. It was £1.45 to shear each sheep, and you get 30p for the wool. And that’s because everyone wears tracksuits. I would make tracksuits illegal unless they’re made of wool.
In one heart-wrenching moment — for Jeremy and viewers — he is forced to take three ewes to the abattoir after they develop udder infection mastitis, meaning they can’t be bred.
He says: “It’s upsetting. I was accused of being tearful but no, I was quite manly. I don’t want to have to kill animals but I’ve got it to do. “I wasn’t going to come skipping out of the abattoir going, ‘Yippee I’ve just made 30 quid’.”
Telly presenter Jeremy feeds his flock of sheep
Yet Jeremy insists farming has made him the happiest he has ever been — even compared with working on his motoring shows.
He says: “Normally I’m up to my ae in a bog in some jungle somewhere while the bridge has collapsed on my head and my car’s on fire. Then I found myself working right outside where I live.
“I thought, ‘Well, this is just heaven’. Now, of course, I can’t wait to get back to going abroad and going to a party. I’ve done that. But I do like farming still.”
Despite working full time on his land for more than a year now, Jeremy still insists he isn’t a farmer.
Early into the series he discovers he is out of his depth and calls in help.
He recruits Kaleb, who has worked on the farm previously and has only left the Cotswolds once, for a school trip to London.
And there’s Gerald, who fixes his walls, but Jeremy can’t understand a word he says.
The programme’s characters seem straight out of a sitcom, and are a big part of what makes it so entertaining, I point out. Jeremy says: “It’s a sitcom around a serious subject which covers so much of our lives, and nobody knows anything about it.
“As far as I can work out, nobody really knows where their food comes from. So if you’re able to learn a little bit while watching, as you say, some sort of quasi sitcom characters doing it, then that’s all to the good.”
Jeremy pictured with partner Lisa
Maybe Jeremy’s declaration that he is not a farmer stems from the tellings off that he gets from pretty much everyone involved, even his girlfriend Lisa Hogan.
He says of farming: “It is really complicated and really difficult. And every time you try to do something, you always get it wrong and then somebody is there to shout at you.
“I just get up in the morning and I get shouted at, then I go to bed. But sometimes, when I’m in my tractor and I’ve got the radio on, and I’ve got my nice sandwich and a glass of beer, then you think, ‘This is great. Nobody’s shouting at me’.”
His entry into farming was made all the harder by a perfect storm of tricky circumstances.
Jeremy says: “There isn’t a farmer in the UK that wouldn’t tell you, if you’re going to start farming, 2019 was the worst year you could possibly have chosen.
“It was great TV because we had that phenomenally wet autumn — it never stopped raining for eight weeks, so you can’t plant anything.
It all led to Jeremy opening his Diddly Squat farm shop, which sells meat from his sheep, milk from local cows and home-produced rapeseed oil.
His neighbour David Beckham is a customer, though others have not been as positive, and Jeremy has faced problems with locals and regulators.
But he says: “It’s a fabulous little business. It now employs four or five people. It’s good food, trying to keep the prices as low as we can.
Viewers will be more used to seeing Jeremy in a FerrariCredit: Eyevine
“We’ve got a little beer bus now so people can come and have a drink.
“There will always be six people in every village in the country who will object to absolutely everything. I bet they objected to penicillin when it was invented — ‘We’ve always had diarrhoea around here, we want to keep with diarrhoea’.
“There are six morons in a village and mine’s no different, but most people here are great.”
- Clarkson’s Farm launches on Amazon Prime Video in June.
I watched three episodes and a plane which starts to crash in the first one was still crashing at the end of the third one.
So I couldn’t understand how a plane took that long to crash. But it did on Emmerdale.
Well, that was in the days when Annie Sugden was still alive.
Emmerdale Farm is not a reference point for a farmer, I don’t think.
I don’t think it’s even called Emmerdale Farm any more, is it?
It’s not even a farming programme any more.
…ON ANIMAL FARM
Well, there’s a lot to be learned from that.
The people of Hartlepool have learned it.
Again, not much farming knowledge.
But everything out there, the running a business certainly is there.
…ON THE DARLING BUDS OF MAY
I think that was farming in the olden days, which is again, very different to farming today.
Everybody thinks Texan farmers are awful and terrible and they’ve all got big sheds and the cows never see the light of day and they’re all cooped up.
Which actually is probably true, but then you do have the likes of the Ewings and Ray Krebbs.
I believe he was the rancher – I think Ray Krebbs looked after his cattle pretty well.
I do think there’s an argument for very, very rich people like the Ewings or rock stars in this country being given control of the land because they’ve got the money to be able to look after it properly.
If you give it to the Government, they haven’t got any money. And if they spend it, ‘Oh you spend too much taxpayers’ money’. You just give it to James Dyson or Sting or Steve Winwood, they know what they’re doing.
They’ve got the money to spunk on massively important projects which are good for nature and good for everybody.
So I do think there’s an argument for handing Britain’s countryside over to our rock stars.
That I’ve learned from watching Dallas.
…ON PRINCE CHARLES
He’s not a rock star but it’s another good case in point– a rich man who wants to look after the land and grow a bit of food. Perfect.