Tuesday, 7 April 2009

BBC Countryfile moves to a new time

There were a couple of programmes on TV on Sunday evening which I thought were worth watching. The first of these was a repeat of something I had missed previously - it was all about actress Joanna Lumley heading to the far north, the very far north inside the Arctic Circle in fact, so that she might have a chance of realising a lifetime ambition and see the Northern Lights. I was always known in the office for having a soft spot for Joanna, it's not just a matter of looks it's the fact that she is a very intelligent person, that she will take up the cudgels on something she is passionately concerned about and as was shown on Sunday she has a huge infectious enthusiasm. I'm glad to say she witnessed the 'Lights' in all their most spectacular glory and she displayed the most genuine almost child-like pleasure with this sighting. Yes a good programme.

Immediately following Joanna's programme there was 'Countryfile' in a new prime time slot. It has always seemed to me a little bizarre to have shown it in the middle of Sunday morning for so many years - surely many of its target audience would be out enjoying the countryside at this very time. 'Countryfile' has had a bit of a makeover for this new series and I have to say that I'm fairly comfortable with what they have done. It is no longer introduced by that stalwart John Craven but I'm pleased to see that John retains a position on the show being a roving reporter on issues of importance (in this instance considering the conflict between seals and salmon farmers). It was down to Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury to effectively do what John Craven had done previously in hosting the show. Sadly we no longer have Michaela Strachan, Charlotte Smith, Miriam O'Reilly or Juliet Morris presenting; when the BBC had announced the changes to the lineup a few months ago some of the press were accusing the BBC of ageism in axing these particular presenters. Of course the Beeb denied this but there is some evidence that they want younger faces on their programmes. I was particularly sorry to learn that Juliet Morris will no longer be on Countryfile, she has strong west country connections and was a presenter on the BBC Spotlight programme for some time. Juliet is very much the 'girl next door' type in my eyes, she seems to be the sort of person that would be great relaxing company and it was a huge shame to lose her to the bright lights of London! One presenter that Countryfile has retained is Adam Henson. He has a farm in Gloucestershire and we are promised that each week he will do a slot from his farm. This is excellent news! Why? Well there is still a big divide in this country between the consumers of our food and those farmers who produce it. Admittedly with farmers markets and so on the gap is closing slightly but there are still too many who never get closer to the source of their food than the shelves in Tesco. This thing is a bit of a hobbyhorse of mine I have to admit but I really feel we need to understand much more about how food is produced. On Sunday then Adam showed us one of his ewes trying to lamb only for one of its front legs to have got stuck so that Adam had to insert his arm in you can imagine where to sort the problem out having gently eased the secured head of the lamb back into its mother for the manipulation. He has livestock and crops and it will be educational to see how his farming year unfolds over the coming months.

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