Countryfile is a British Sunday-morning television programme by the BBC which first aired in 1988 and reports on rural and environmental issues within the United Kingdom. It is presented primarily by John Craven, with reports from a pool of presenters. The issues which it addresses are generally those within the rural public consciousness of the UK, such as animal-culling, fox hunting, organic farming, EU agricultural policy, pollution, and open access land, and as such the nature of the programme is often highly political, sometimes airing debates between pressure groups. In recent years, the show has hardly featured farming issues, and concentrates on rural arts and sports, using recorded segments which are often repeated several times over a period of a year or two.
Matt Baker and Anita Rani preside over proceedings as the best shepherds and their dogs from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland battle it out for the trophy. While Matt takes to the commentary box, Anita explores the history of the estate and catches up with the friends and family of the competitors.
Anita Rani travels to Surrey to explore the revival of interest in growing hops there. She meets the brewers bringing back the county's fabled white bine hop, helps to get the hop harvest in and gets to sample an unusual brew made with fresh undried hops. She also joins Surrey Wildlife Trust, who are carrying out a survey of small mammals to see how effective wildlife corridors are. Adam Henson is hoping for the right conditions to get the last of his wheat harvest in, and John announces which photograph the public voted winner in the Countryfile Photographic Competition. Tom Heap is on the trail of one of the UK's most loved animals, the red squirrel, and finds out what can be done to halt its decline.
The team look at how rivers and waterways have shaped our landscape. Matt Baker is on the Thames Estuary to meet a writer who draws inspiration from the estuary and its people. He also meets the Port Authority staff who oversee some 30,000 annual ship movements, jumps on the foot ferry that once would have brought livestock into the city and meets an artist making beautiful things from the flotsam brought in on the tide. Sean Fletcher is just a few miles from Matt, finding out what it takes to turn a landfill site into a thriving nature reserve. And Naomi Wilkinson is in Devon at the beautiful Lydford Gorge, meeting a photographer captivated by its waterfall and whose pictures have become an internet sensation. Naomi then takes to the oldest shipping canal in Britain on a paddleboard! Meanwhile, Adam visits Widecombe Fair in Devon - one of the country's last traditional country fairs. And with the badger cull once again well underway, Tom Heap explores the science around bovine TB.
To celebrate nature's final flourish before the slow descent into winter, the team pulls on its wellies, kicks through the crisp leaves and explores the fruits of our forests. Anita heads to Somerset for a rare autumnal sight - walnut woodland with laden branches. We meet walnut farmer Roger Saul as he reaps one of Somerset's newest crops, borrowing technology from one of its oldest. Matt is in the wilds of East Sussex to meet Nick Weston, a writer, woodsman and chef who spent six months living off-grid in a tree house built from wood and recycled materials. Tim Shepherd is a botanist who specialises in timelapse filming. We gather young fungi on deadwood from Tim's local woodland to take back to his studio to film them growing. We join Adam as he delivers some of his pigs to a Gloucestershire farmer using this traditional way of animal and woodland management. John investigates the hibernation of dormice on the Isle of Wight.
Matt and Anita are in Herefordshire. Matt looks at the county's historic perry-making industry and helps out with the pear harvest. He starts out at Weston's, the cider makers, who are the world's biggest producers of perry. Then he travels to the 12th-century Hellen's Manor, where some of the rarest and oldest pear trees in the world are to be found. He gathers a sackful and heads to meet self-styled 'ciderologist' Gabe Wood, a man who likes cider but loves perry even more. Together they make perry the old-fashioned way - on a stone grinding wheel with lots of elbow grease. Anita is at a farm where time has stood still. She recounts the story of Birches Farm and farmer Alfred Price through the diaries he kept. She also visits the last traditional clog maker in Herefordshire to see clogs being made the time-honoured way. Joe Crowley is with PhD student Charlotte Selvey, who is using worms made of modelling clay to find out what birds are present in the county's ancient orchards. The birds leave beak impressions in the fake worms, which identifies them. Tom's looking at the appalling conditions endured by some workers on the high seas, conditions which many have described as slavery. And Adam is on the farm where they're harvesting bracken for fuel.
In this extended edition of Countryfile the team head out into some of the nation's most beautiful landscapes for the Countryfile Ramble for BBC Children in Need. The team are joined by viewers of the show, as well as some inspirational youngsters supported by BBC Children in Need, and they celebrate the thousands of sponsored rambles viewers organised themselves in aid of the cause. Visiting the Lake District, Matt Baker takes on the most challenging of routes in the Eskdale Valley. In Matt's group is Levana, a 15-year-old double amputee who has been supported by the BBC Children in Need-funded project Meningitis Now. Heading to Northern Ireland's coastline, John Craven takes on Giant's Causeway with a group of Countryfile viewers and 16-year-old Zahra from Belfast. Zahra has arthritis and has been supported by the BBC Children in Need-funded project Arthritis Care NI. Anita Rani visits the Brecon Beacons and heads up Sugar Loaf Mountain, joined by a group of Countryfile viewers as well as Olivia, a 15-year-old who has Down's Syndrome and who has been supported by the BBC Children in Need-funded Cathays & Central Youth & Community Project in Cardiff. In Scotland, Ellie Harrison leads the largest group of ramblers around Edinburgh's Holyrood Park. Ellie is also joined by a group of young people from the Jeely Piece Club in Glasgow, a local play project which is funded by BBC Children in Need. Completing the rambles, Adam Henson heads to Alice Holts Forest in Surrey, joined by Countryfile viewers and the Shilston family from Surrey, who have been supported by the BBC Children in Need-funded project the Princess Alice Hospice. The programme also looks at the thousands of rambles which members of the public took on themselves in aid of the cause.
Helen Skelton is on a special cycle ride across northern France to commemorate 100 years since the Battle of the Somme. She finds out about the brave cycling battalions that travelled from many parts of rural Britain, to fight there. Helen also meets fellow riders to hear their personal reasons for taking on the cycling challenge. Plus a look back through the Countryfile archives to the times Britain's countryside connections to war and the role of nature in remembrance and rehabilitation were explored. John Craven reveals the role of the humble tractor in the development of the tank, Ellie Harrison experiences the tranquillity of the National Memorial Arboretum and Jules Hudson witnesses the impact of the outdoors on one soldier's recovery from war.
Countryfile visits West Yorkshire, where Matt Baker meets the youngsters who have become RSPB rangers. Anita Rani explores Bronte country and meets an author who literally immerses himself in the landscape. Anita also finds out about an award-winning halloumi cheese producer from Syria. Naomi Wilkinson discovers the challenges facing the fire brigade at Ogden Water, and Adam raises a glass to English wine. Tom Heap investigates claims that sheep farming could become impossible in some parts of Britain within just a few years.
The Countryfile team explores the Brecon Beacons. Matt Baker discovers geocaching, a treasure hunt with a modern twist, and meets an artist whose canvas is the night sky. Helen Skelton is sheep trekking across the landscape and taking part in a rather muddy fish rescue. Sean Fletcher jumps on his bike to meet the farmers who have taken diversification to the extreme, and Adam Henson finds out about a cancer cure for man's best friend. Tom Heap asks how safe horses and riders really are on country roads and if more should be done to protect them.
Helen, Joe and Sean explore the varied landscapes of Aberdeenshire. From the solitude of the rugged north coast to the deep dark forests where wildcats dwell, it's a surprising county. Helen discovers the only village on mainland Britain where cars can't go. She also visits an open-air aquarium where they hand feed the fish, and she makes lino prints with an artist who takes inspiration from this remote coastline. Joe looks at a project mapping the diminishing wildcat population and sees the extraordinary lengths volunteers go to, to help preserve them. Sean visits a turkey farm where the guard dogs are alpacas, and Adam catches up with One Man and His Dog winner Dick Roper to pick up some expert tips on sheepdog handling. Council farms have long been seen as a way for people to get their foot on the farming ladder, but across much of the country they are now being sold off to raise money for cash-strapped councils. Tom Heap investigates why so many of these farms are disappearing from the landscape and how some councils have taken a very different stance.