It’s been no secret that Jeremy Clarkson has been working on something behind the glamour and high budget of The Grand Tour and his ITV quiz show take over of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Well, all the money that’s come from this has been shovelled (quite literally) into something more down to earth.
Diddly Squat Farm was started over a year ago, and since then, Amazon Prime Video has followed the presenter with cameras as he attempted to build a successful farming business. Now, as soon as we press play on Clarkson’s Farm, we’re told that this is going to be a very different type of show from a man who’s usual day job is sliding cars and shouting “power”, and this couldn’t be more true when you really get stuck into the action. Or should I say lack thereof?
“It’s a peaceful, 1,000-acre haven of wide open fields, brooks, waterfalls, woods, and wildflower meadows,” he begins. Clarkson explains to the camera that when he bought the farm in 2008, it was run by someone who lived in a close village. But on news of his retirement, The Grand Tour presenter decided to take things into his own hands. “I shall farm it myself,” he says confidently. Little did he know, the year ahead would be treacherous and plagued with not only awful weather conditions, but a global pandemic.
Clarkson isn’t stupid, despite his antics on the show which includes the ignoring of advise from knowledgable farmers and a seemingly lack of experience managing money. He knows that if he buys something as stupid and as flamboyant as a giant Lamborghini tractor, it will cause entertaining issues later in the show. But strangely, while this can seem scripted on his other shows like The Grand Tour and Top Gear, here it feels natural.
What’s even better is that after such things, he’s confronted by a young, confident, and knowledgeable farmer named Kaleb, who gives him an earful. Clarkson shrinks in these moments, and his metaphorical tail truly sits between his legs. While I’m sure the majority of this was planned to an extent, the struggle behind Clarkson’s farming endeavour is more than evident, pulling you into the story alongside him and those helping him.
This is one thing Clarkson’s Farm does very well. Clarkson bears all to camera: his triumphs, his hardworking, but more importantly, his weaknesses. After being shouted at by Kaleb, he turns to the camera and simply admits that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. It’s a stark reminder that while the presenter is a master journalist and exquisite writer and presenter, he is no farmer. Then COVID-19 hits, and his fear of it rises to the top.
“I’m scared shitless,” he tells Kaleb, before revealing that he doesn’t hold much hope for getting through it if he does contract the virus. It’s a sobering moment, lit up only by Kaleb’s response of being disappointed by not being able to get a perm. While we’re on the subject, Kaleb was a brilliant contrast of Clarkson during my viewing. He’s young, and isn’t afraid to bat Clarkson around the head for doing something stupid. But during these moments where Clarkson is drowning in worry, he’s able to pull the tonality of the show back into the light.
Clarkson’s Farm is simply brilliant. There’s no beating about the bush, it’s worth watching no matter your thoughts on the presenter or your interest in farming, this is a beautiful return of journalism from Clarkson. He cloaks the reality, the perplexity, and the struggle of farming with his usual humour, and while it’s an entertaining program on the face of it, it has a deeper meaning. Farming is hard, and we should be doing all we can to support farmer because, unlike Clarkson, they’re not getting commission from Amazon.