It's A Farmer's Life For Me

After nine weeks of gripping television we’ve reached the final of “A Farmers Life for Me” where we get to find out which lucky couple will win a 25 acre farm in deepest Suffolk.
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I’m lying about it being gripping. I have to confess I haven’t seen any of the previous episodes as I was busy stacking the dishwasher. It looked like the sort of dull guff that catatonic old dears would resign themselves to watching because they’ve been pointing the remote the wrong way round.

It’s pretty much the Apprentice in a field, with lambs for the slaughter and plenty of one trick ponies, but swap the brogues for welly bobs, the hair gel for midge repellant and Alan Sugar for Jimmy Doherty, a much nicer man despite the fact that he kills pigs for a living.  Instead of growling “You’re fired” he pleasantly implores them to “Get Orf Moi Laand!”

For this week’s finale he’s devised a farming day from hell. To most people every farming day would be hell. Getting up at four in the morning to squeeze some slobbering cows tit whilst trying to avoid the jet of steaming hot excrement firing out of its arse.  Stumbling bleary eyed across frozen fields in the dark hunting down wayward sheep, blasting poachers in the face with a twelve bore and then staggering off to the lake to feed burgers to the swans. Who’d want to win that?

Ray and Jane would. They are Geordie people and if you shut your eyes they are Oz and Cheryl, but much nicer. Like all Geordies Ray works in a factory and it’s been his lifetime ambition to escape.

“I want to get some shit on my hands”, he exclaims.

Ian and Sue are a few hundred years older and look like they should be at home with their feet up watching Deal or No Deal, but they’re excited about the prospect of back breaking labour for a pittance.

To most people every farming day would be hell. Getting up at four in the morning to squeeze some slobbering cows tit whilst trying to avoid the jet of steaming hot excrement firing out of its arse.

For their first test they have to round up a flock of sheep with nothing to help them except their wits and a crazy little dog.

As always, there’s an expert on hand to whisper how rubbish they are. Sheila Innes is a proper shepherdess and has the look of someone who you wouldn’t let you cross her land without leaving you with a few pellets up your arse.

The dog runs off looking for bones leaving Ray and Jane tearing around after the sheep. It doesn’t help that they’re made to wear big daft waterproof jump suits in boiling hot sunshine whilst Jimmy grimaces in the shade and looks cool in his rural designer clobber. “Urgh.. I got sheep poo on me Timberlands”, I imagine him complaining.  No wonder. The sheep must be shitting it. When they’re finally squashed in to the pen the young and infirm are carefully selected for execution. They’re shaved of their precious fleeces before being sent to the abattoir to be dismembered by grinning, blood thirsty buffoons, high on scrumpy and dreams of gore. “Bellied and dagged”, is the happy farm word for it. It’s probably safe to say this isn’t Morrissey’s idea of TV heaven.

Ian says he enjoys sheep. So they’ll probably run that bit faster. The hopeless dog is still running amok so Sue has to politely coax the sheep in to the pen. Her crazy ginger hair startles them like some mad fox and they bolt for the hills, but she eventually persuades them in to the pen that Ian has built, but it’s so small they have to form a kind of sheep tower to fit in.

“It s like putting a cork in an exhaust”, says Jimmy, whilst Sheila nods with a knowing smile.

Resigned to their death, a sheep offers himself up to Ian who nearly shaves its tail off. For some reason they get concerned and treat it with disinfectant - like it’s not about to be electrocuted and chopped to bits.

I’ve no idea how they are scoring this, but the Geordies are in the lead and next it’s ploughing and seeding.

This is the farming I’d enjoy. Tearing around a field in a tractor, but for safety reasons they’ve put speed limit on the tractor. If it goes over 50mph the producer will pop a paper bag.

From where I’m sitting the couples seem to do okay, but that’s the trouble with the entire programme. Unless you actually work on a farm - and I bet all the real farmers are watching Emmerdale on the other side - there’s really nothing to point and laugh at. It’s not like the Apprentice where the buffoonery is clear for all to see. Unless they drive a tractor in to a pond and drown there’s little to keep our interest.

“Classic schoolboy errors”, gloats the tractor expert, whoever he was and whatever it was he was vainly referring to.

The Geordies are still winning as they’ve made a bigger pigs ear of the field, but at this crucial stage of the game there’s not much in it and it barely feels like a competition. And to make it even less interesting there’s still no bitching, no tears, no tantrums, no huffing or puffing. It’s all too nice. Too calm. Reality television needs horrible bastards and feckless morons. They are the twats we tune in and tweet about.

The couples retire to their caravans to work out a business plan for their farms and presumably use fuzzy felt to design how it will look.

This bit is so boring. Even the resident business expert appears to stifle a yawn when he summarises how clueless he thinks they are. Poor fella’s probably been up feeding the swans.

It’s all too nice. Too calm. Reality television needs horrible bastards and feckless morons. They are the twats we tune in and tweet about.

And finally, it’s time for the pitch. It’s Dragon’s Den in a cow shed.

Ray and Jane have designed a very funky poster for their farm. It looks like it’s advertising a Sly Stone gig. For the layout of the farm they’ve come up with a field the size of a postage stamp for a coach load of pigs. Probably thinking, sod it - they’ll be bacon in the morning. Jimmy’s not impressed, but he does like the pasta sauce they’ve invented. However their estimate of £18.00 per week profit is mocked by the soft southern ponce who doesn’t understand that this will pay the mortgage on a semi detached in the North East.

There’s a chance Ian and Sue could claw it back with a better business plan, until they reveal the poster for their farm is entitled the Suffolk Squeak Company and looks like the cover of a Ladybird book.

In tiny letters at bottom it says “Farm produce”.

Their farm plan looks like something out of the fifties according to Jimmy. Like somewhere Enid Blyton would send the Famous for a hearty breakfast - free of charge. However, their choice of food to sell looks like half a scooped out monkey skull. Some kind of bap filled with meat, but apparently it tastes nice and they expect to sell millions of them every day. When reality kicks in, along with the bailiffs, their plan is to sell cheese.

And that’s it. Jimmy has to decide which of these poor sods has to spend the next twelve months in abject misery. He looks pained.

“It’s tough, it’s difficult, and it’s hard. They’re both so hopeless”, he thinks.

The verdict is delivered in a field.

Jimmy starts talking about passion and physical skills and we instantly know he’s being ageist, so it’s no surprise when he announces the Geordies have won. There’s barely time to enjoy a group hug before the credits put us out of our misery - until the inevitable follow up programme next year where all manner of grisly misfortune will no doubt make for much better viewing.

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