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Opinion - How the BBC captured the nation through farming

For four weeks, This Farming Life has had the nation hooked by documenting the lives of five farming families in bonny Scotland.
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Martin and Mel have fast become the nation's favourite farming couple
Martin and Mel have fast become the nation's favourite farming couple

Winning praise from many within farming, Farmers Guardian editor Ben Briggs wrote in his weekly leader column within the paper how the programme had brought farming alive to an urban audience.

 


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Here it is in full

"It is fair to say a lot of farmers have not always been hugely impressed by the BBC’s coverage of agriculture – until now perhaps.


"Past criticisms of its flagship rural show Countryfile often centred on how many farmers felt it showcased wider rural issues, not agriculture, and led some to brand it ‘Towniefile’.


"When I raised this on Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show last year, the ensuing headlines in some national newspapers about farming’s disdain for the show no doubt made many outside the industry chuckle.


"More seriously, however, was prior criticism of the BBC’s rural coverage by its own trustees, who claimed it too often viewed farming through the prism of environmentalism.


"How refreshing then that the BBC has shone an extended light on the realities of agriculture and the people who make it tick via its BBC2 show This Farming Life, which came to an end this week.

 

"By highlighting that farming is (shock horror) full of real people, passionate businesspeople and larger than life characters who play a pivotal role in their farms and wider communities, it has done much to debunk many of the stereotypes and preconceived notions the wider public has about the industry.


"When, in one episode, a farmer headed out into a force 11 gale to find his Highland Cattle, it struck me many urban dwellers might be more familiar with pictures of the moon than they are with the extremes farming sometimes presents.


"By showing the realities of farming, maybe the ‘us and them’ divide between rural and urban can be bridged and, crucially, the show’s popularity also proves a wider audience is ready to buy into the people behind the food they eat. This could be a powerful promotional tool in itself.


"So, as much as it might seem strange for me to say it, all credit to the BBC for putting farming front and centre and in the public eye."

 

- Ben Briggs, editor

April 1, 2016

Your comments about This Farming Life

What am I going to watch now!!! Need another series. Is there going to be Martin and Mel babies? Do sybil and George...

Posted by Sally McIntosh on Thursday, 31 March 2016

Really would like some more of this ....farming is such a major part of this country and needs celebrating and the public need educating..this is a wonderful way to entertain and educate..hope it comes back..

Posted by Bridget Moore on Thursday, 31 March 2016
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