He should not be a figure to rally behind for anyone (Picture: Amazon)
Jeremy Clarkson has almost godlike status in one seemingly very unlikely place – the British farming community.
When he swanned onto Amazon Prime in 2021 with his series, Clarkson’s Farm, it was an instant hit.
For those unaware about the premise of the show, the ex-Top Gear presenter, 63, comically struggles to make just about any profit from his newly-purchased – and aptly named – Diddly Squat Farm in the Cotswolds.
He’s dumbstruck by the seemingly impossible hurdles many people within the agriculture industry have grappled with in private for decades – and proudly broadcasts his struggles to the world.
Farmers up and down the country immediately rejoiced in the series, with James Rebanks – author of The Shepherd’s Life – famously saying Clarkson has ‘done more for farmers in one series of Clarkson’s Farm than Countryfile achieved in 30 years’.
‘There were silly bits,’ Rebanks admitted, chatting when the first series aired in 2021. ‘But in the farming community they are just delighted that someone high profile would stick up for them or have any kind of genuine empathy.’
As a farmer’s daughter, I love seeing the industry spotlighted like this.
But it worries me that a man who went on a vile, sexist tirade about Meghan Markle is now the hero of a community I was born into. And a male-dominated one, at that.
It worries me that a man who recently went on a vile, sexist tirade about Meghan Markle is now the hero of a community (Picture: REX/Getty)
Indeed, when I posed a Clarkson’s Farm vs BBC’s Countryfile question to a British farming Facebook group, the consensus was clear with favour for the former.
‘No comparison,’ said one. ‘A lot of time for Adam [Henson, of Countryfile] but he has barely 5 minutes in the half hour and never shows his f*** ups or the real and palpable stress of the job.’
Clarkson’s Farm is refreshingly transparent because it showcases the TV star protagonist’s agricultural ineptitude. It instead champions Kaleb Cooper – a normal long-suffering country lad tasked with making it all work – who is now a breakout star of the series with 2million Instagram followers. Putting relatable and very real people to the heart of the series was clearly well-received by the community.
Someone else commented on my Facebook post: ‘Several non-farming friends have said about how Clarkson shows how hard the job can be, the weather dependency of drilling and harvest and the fine margins we work on. No one ever says they’ve seen anything interesting on Countryfile.’
Clarkson’s Farm is refreshingly transparent (Picture: Amazon)
I have to agree. Countryfile is primarily a show about the countryside, with a sprinkling of farming fluff, but when I see it mentioned on the show, it achieves not much more than a woolly, sanitised version of reality.
I’ve worked many lambing seasons over the years and the truth of this time of year is genuinely gruelling.
It reeks of death and afterbirth gunk truly gets everywhere. As does s**t. This is before you have the joy of putting your hand up a struggling sheep in the hope of coaxing out a massive single lamb that simply won’t budge.
Then you have to get the vet out. That’ll be your monthly profit, please.
If a lamb dies, its corpse is often skinned for an orphan to wear in an attempt to trick a mother into thinking it’s hers. Some lambs are born dead, as you discover on pulling out a rotten leg from a bleating ewe. It’s grim.
Then you’ve got the weather to contend with. One year, I remember floods so bad even fully grown ewes drowned, while many lambs were left floating, lifeless, down rivers. It was the antithesis of springtime promise. For crops, the same anxiety-inducing torment comes from the unpredictability of harvest.
The dearth of representation means that some folk are so quick to defend him (Picture: Amazon)
With the huge unexpected overheads, economic uncertainty and generally having to be totally at the mercy of the great British weather while encountering death around every turn: farming is no breeze. But someone has to do it, if we want to eat.
Given that Clarkson shows some of these realities – and the stark contrast to Countryfile’s Disney-adult version of it – I don’t blame agri folk for god-worshipping him. He is seemingly their only mainstream cheerleader who is speaking their language.
As ground-breaking as the show is, filming has wrapped up for season three of Clarkson’s Farm and knowing that the agriculture industry will soon be tucking into the new season like a hearty pie, savouring every joke, I feel uneasy.
Although I do not blame them for it, I don’t like seeing a community I grew up in celebrating a man who epitomises many things I think are wrong with the world.
He should not be a figure to rally behind for anyone, especially after his gross, misogynistic words in one particular column for The Sun. In it, he described how he dreamt about Meghan Markle parading the streets naked, while the public shout shame and throw excrement at her.
More from Platform
Platform is the home of Metro.co.uk’s first-person and opinion pieces, devoted to giving a platform to underheard and underrepresented voices in the media.
Find some of our best reads of the week below:
After Hallie told fellow Big Brother contestants about the cost of gender-affirming surgery, trans writer Alex Woolhouse tells her own story.
Huntington’s Disease is a rare illness that causes the brain to generate, and it led Charlotte Hewitt to almost fatally stab herself in the stomach.
Have you ever been on a blind date? Samson Dada thought his went ok, until it emerged his friends had paid the woman to go along.
And as war continues to rage, Ellie Middleton wants celebrities to lay off posting about the Israel-Hamas conflict.
After the article became the most complained-about ever at Ipso – with tens of thousands of write-ins – it was removed online. Clarkson later apologised, as did the publication.
Let’s not forget his other controversies. In 2020 he joked about a woman in a burka falling over and exposing a ‘red G-string and stockings’ and four years later he apparently mumbled the N word in a Top Gear outtake while reciting a nursery rhyme. He apologised saying he was ‘horrified’ that it sounded as though he had used it.
Yes, he did waltz in to help my community feel seen – and that’s good. But that doesn’t excuse his past misdemeanours and it shouldn’t overshadow them either.
But that’s exactly what happens when a part of society isn’t truly seen and represented in the mainstream: they latch onto the loudest spokesperson they have.
Agriculture employs almost half a million people in the UK, and produces half the food we eat. It’s also estimated that 70% of the British countryside is farmland in some way.
Clarkson would only become a martyr if his show is axed (Picture: Neil Mockford/Alex Huckle/GC Images)
It’s clearly an important industry. And yet, on mainstream TV, the plight of the agriculture industry is largely ignored.
This dearth of representation means that some folk are so quick to defend him – even his ugliest comments – because he’s the only high profile person sticking up for them. That’s dangerous. Especially for women in the industry.
That is why I am worried about a fossil like Jeremy Clarkson capturing the community’s imagination. I don’t want young farmers to get stuck on a prehistoric hill with him, repeating his sexist rhetoric, all because he’s the only one taking their plight seriously on TV.
I hope the love for Clarkson’s Farm doesn’t run this deep.
That said, I believe Amazon Prime should keep Clarkson’s Farm going – despite controversy. Representing the community is important and he’s the only one doing it properly.
Besides, Clarkson would only become a martyr if his show is axed and our community’s only mouthpiece – however controversial – is taken away.
Rather than erasing the only popular hero in this field – literally – we need to find better ones. We need more Kalebs to be championed in mainstream media who can eclipse the Clarkson effect.
Perhaps some members of the community chortle along to Clarkson’s past controversies, and think he really does represent them in every way. That would be incredibly sad.
But just like the first day of spring, I have hope.
Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing [email protected].
Share your views in the comments below.
‘Clarkson has done more for farmers in one series than Countryfile has in 30 years.’