Stay on the Road, Not the Land: Clarkson’s Farm

Published July 9, 2021, 11:45 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

Clarkson and girlfriend, Lisa, survey the land from the back of a Range Rover.

Clarkson’s Farm (Amazon Prime, eight-episode limited series)

Motoring aficionados will be familiar with Jeremy Clarkson, as he was the host/co-host of Top Gear and The Grand Tour for 13 years. Now 60 years of age, his new show, Clarkson’s Farm, has him taking over the Cotswolds farmlands he acquired in 2008. Prior to this show, the farm had been managed by a farmer who has now decided to retire. Known for his acerbic wit and being opinionated, the series is an entertaining shift in gear for this speed fiend, as Clarkson is now working with tractors, cultivators, and drills. On hand to help him; and by all rights, Clarkson’s co-star and foil, is contractual farmhand Kaleb Cooper. A local lad, Kaleb is your die-hard country boy, having lived in Chipping Norton his whole adult life. He jokes about how he visited London once, but stayed on the bus, as there were too many people.

At its core, the show is a wonderful ‘fish out of water’ tale. Clarkson is an urbane city creature, and the episodes chronicle his attempts at becoming a gentleman farmer. It’s a succession of farming fails, and how with sheer dogged determination, he barely avoids making a full disaster of his farming foray. It’s light situational humor, and Jeremy is a perfect guide, as we regale and enjoy watching his overconfidence erode, and how his attempts to keep his head just above water are his saving grace.

Each episode takes us on a distinct journey of his trying to take over and manage the land. To give you an example, if the first episode is devoted to his getting behind the wheel of a Tractor, the second episode is all about gathering his flock of sheep. The tractor episode alone is a hoot, as rather than settle for a sensible 45-hp second-hand tractor, he decides to buy a Lamborghini – one that he can’t even fit into his shed as the monster tractor is too high! Kaleb roasts him on his poor decision-making and throws a fit after seeing how Jeremy cultivated one section of his farm, ‘as straight as a roundabout’.

As Kaleb and others put it, Jeremy may know the roads, but he certainly should keep off the land. In the sheep herding episode, rather than invest in a good sheep dog, Jeremy tries to be smart and uses an audio-activated drone, with the sound of a dog barking, to herd his flock. It may work at one level, but it also doesn’t allow for the sheep that jump over the walls and fences, and end up on the roads and country lanes.

Clarkson and foil, Kaleb, with the Lamborghini tractor in the background.

The Diddley Squat Farm Produce Shop is one of the byproducts of Jeremy’s farming adventure. And by all accounts, that has been a success. So much so that his neighboring farmers have actually complained about the traffic it’s caused on the usually deserted country roads of Chipping Norton.

As the episodes unravel, we are treated to the bonding that occurs between Jeremy, his girlfriend Lisa, and people who assist him on this farming adventure. The last episode has him deciding whether to pack it all in and go back to the city, or accept that he’s found fulfillment in this shift to a rural lifestyle. You’ll love how when Jeremy poses the question of whether he should head back to London, Kaleb quickly replies that ‘Yes, it’s a good idea.’ Entertaining and filled with deadpan humor, this is a winning series, and we hope it’s renewed for a second season.