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 is in Panshanger Park in Hertfordshire, seeing how an old quarry has become one of the best places for wildlife in the county. He also finds out that the park's many old trees are whole ecosystems in their own right, teeming with life. Sean is in Panshanger too, helping move a herd of English longhorn cattle to complete a 300-year-old vision for the park. This being Easter Sunday, Anita is on the trail of one of our favourite Easter snacks - the hot cross bun. She visits a restored, working watermill and helps grind the flour needed to make her Easter treats. Steve is in Buckinghamshire at Whitecross Green Wood nature reserve, looking for signs of spring. Down on Adam’s farm there is plenty of new spring life, but in among the new arrivals there’s also a note of sadness too, and Tom looks at how the fight to prevent a UK water shortage could hit food producers the hardest.
Matt meets caravan enthusiasts near Morecambe Bay as they celebrate 100 years of caravanning history. He also discovers how the rise of camping has allowed farms to diversify. Ellie steps aboard a ‘floating apothecary’ run by two trained herbalists who use plants from the forest to make natural remedies. Adam meets top chef Michael Wignall as they take a tour of his favourite suppliers in North Yorkshire, including a Himalayan salt chamber. John goes from fleece to fabric as he tries his hand at shearing with blade scissors and dying unspun wool using spring flowers. The whole process is sustainable, biodegradable and bringing cloth-making back to Bristol. Anita is doing the donkey work in Northern Ireland as she takes part in a tradition stretching back centuries in which donkeys do all the ploughing and planting of traditional Irish crops. And while Steve is on a quest to spot some of the birds returning to the UK this spring, he meets a local artist who makes 3D paper sculptures inspired by nature.
Ellie Harrison introduces archive reports on people and animals living on Britain's coastline. She also visits Somerset's Steart Peninsula, home to the UK's biggest new coastal wetland, created to play a vital role in preventing flooding and fighting the impact of coastal erosion, and meets farmers who still manage to make a living from the surrounding land in the face of flooding.
Countryfile is in Aberdeenshire, where Anita Rani meets a farmer and her daughter who have a passion for the hardiest of livestock, Highland cattle. She also visits some farmers with a hankering for heritage vegetables. Joe Crowley turns detective to track down the disappearing wild Atlantic salmon. Steve Brown visits a wildlife rescue centre that’s been making headlines, Tom Heap looks at plans to force devvelopers to pay to improve the countryside, and on Adam Henson's farm it’s time for his animals to quit their winter feed and hit pastures new.
This month marks 200 years since Queen Victoria’s birth, so Countryfile is exploring the Victorians' fascination with nature and the great outdoors. Matt Baker visits Queen Victoria’s beloved country retreat, Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, where preparations for the celebrations are well underway. Ellie Harrison finds out about the rebellious Victorian women’s cycling clubs. John Craven delves into Darwin’s theory of sexual selection and his issues with the flamboyant peacock. Margherita Taylor takes a microscopic view of the Victorian obsession with science and the ordering of nature, Adam Henson meets the dairy farmer who overcame adversity to realise his dream, and Tom Heap looks at the impact of bringing Britain’s biggest bird of prey back to our skies.
This week the team are in Derbyshire. Matt Baker joins a group of people who have been restoring Chesterfield’s canals – bringing both employment and life back to the area. Anita Rani is in Tissington – a village owned by the same family for 400 years, but with some very modern ideas about land management and development of an agricultural estate. Anita hears all about the area's industrial past and meets a modern-day knife maker. Steve Brown meets the 'nectar inspectors' and learns how we can all help pollinators by calculating the 'nectar score' in our own back gardens and yards. Tom finds out whether a vision of chemical-free farming could ever become a reality. And Adam and Charlotte meet the first finalist in our search for the Countryfile Farming Hero 2019.
This week the team are in south Wales. Matt Baker is on the Gower Peninsula to learn about a project that’s not only creating new structures from the fabric of the land but also building a future for the people on it. Ellie Harrison is in Monmouthshire, where it’s already shearing time. But this isn’t a sheep farm – there’s a new flock on the block: alpacas! Sean gets a taste of the landscape on a pig farm in the Black Mountains, Tom Heap asks whether our countryside has become a tax haven for the super-rich, and Adam Henson and Charlotte Smith meet the second of our Farming Hero finalists for 2019.
This week the team are in Hampshire celebrating our chalk streams. Anita is with the volunteers of the local Wildlife Trust who use novel ways to check for water pollution. She also joins a group of women with breast cancer who’ve found companionship and support through fly fishing. Matt meets the farmers who are trying different approaches to help reduce run-off from their farms, including one whose water buffalo were causing a bit of a problem. Joe Crowley investigates claim that factories are flushing polluting chemicals into watercourses, and he also meets Cyril Bennet, one of the world’s leading experts on mayflies, to learn about his work reintroducing them to rivers. Also in this programme, Adam and Charlotte meet the last of the three contenders for our Farming Hero Award.
This week Matt Baker is in West Yorkshire at the beautiful Hardcastle Crags near Hebden Bridge. It’s 50 years since protesters saved this beauty spot from being turned into a reservoir. These days it’s a different kind of watery enemy that threatens - floodwater - so Matt joins volunteers working on various ways to prevent future flooding. He also spends an afternoon exploring the special habitat and diverse wildlife that thrives in this natural gorge, and whose existence depends very much on preventing floods. Meanwhile, Anita Rani meets a woman looking to change our laundry habits with tiny sheep-shaped tumble dryer balls. Anita also meets the dairy farmers whose Pontefract cake flavoured ice cream helped them bounce back after lean times in the farming industry. John Craven is joined by fellow judges Simon King and Cerys Matthews to launch this year’s photographic competition, Adam meets the Devon shepherd who’s taking on the best sheep shearers in the world and beating them hands down, and Joe is on the trail of the smugglers targeting one of our most endangered creatures - glass eels.
We’re in Lincolnshire where Ellie is kicking back in a bar where it’s not drinks on the menu but clouds! Visitors to this 'cloud bar' are encouraged to looks to the skies, spot a few clouds, and let their minds drift. Ellie also sees how eels are being used to combat the threat from invasive signal crayfish. Matt looks at a new way of managing the county's grass verges that benefits not just wildlife but the farming community too. There’s another of Adam’s looks at what Brexit could mean for our farmers, and he’s joined by Charlotte at the Food and Farming Awards where they’ll be announcing this year’s Countryfile Farming Hero. And Tom looks at whether funding art in the countryside is really worth it.
Machynlleth is the first town in Wales to declare a climate emergency. Anita pays a visit to see how the local community is coming together to do its bit in the fight against a warming planet. She stops off at the repair café where everything from bikes to old umbrellas is given a new lease of life. She picks her own veg at various help-yourself plots around the town and heads to the Centre for Alternative Technology where she cooks up a feast with the veg she’s picked in a big solar-powered oven. Also at the Centre she checks out the latest designs in solar heating and finds out that everything from cherry stones to bracken can be used to insulate our homes.
In Bedfordshire, Ellie Harrison is on the Totternhoe nature reserve, hearing how tiny temperature loggers could help some of our rarest species combat the effects of climate change. John Craven visits the secluded estate of Luton Hoo, where the walled garden and the estate’s farmland have played an important role throughout the years. Both were used as training grounds for Land Girls, and John meets Zeita Holes who trained as a dairy maid there. Matt Baker spends the day on the Franklin family farm. It started life as a poultry farm, and has been passed down through six generations. But over the years the family have diversified to keep up with changing market demands, and their focus now is on producing slow-grown, 100% traceable food. They also supply their meat to another producer in the area making something that Bedfordshire only wishes had the same fame as its Cornish counterpart – the Bedfordshire Clanger! Adam Henson visits his Suffolk Punch, Lexie. She’s been in stud for the last few months and Adam’s hoping for some good news. It’s said we’re seeing a new dawn in environmental campaigning – where established power structures are being turned on their head. Tom Heap asks if the old way of working – where top-down policy-making is enforced and monitored by bureaucratic bodies hamstrung by red tape and a lack of resources – has had its day? The eastern counties of England are known for their arable farming. But the rich soils aren’t only perfect for growing all sorts of crops; they also nurture some very rare plants, as Margherita Taylor discovers, just over the border in Lincolnshire, where she learns all about the rare tall thrift.
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.
Anita Rani and John Craven are in Essex, where there is so much more going on beside the seaside than just sandcastles and seagulls stealing chips. Anita hears how tough old timber that has travelled half way around the world from the tropics to the UK is being up-cycled and repurposed to find new life in the Essex landscape. John visits a farm which is a leader in the field when it comes to growing niche crops. Peter Fairs was one of the first farmers to grow quinoa back in the 1970s, and an increase in plant-based diets means that Peter's unusual crops are becoming more mainstream. John gets a taste of their latest superfood crops - borage and chia. In a couple of weeks Countryfile celebrates Britain's best shepherding talent, playing host to the One Man and His Dog sheepdog trial competition. As the competitors and their collies get ready, Adam Henson heads out to meet teams Scotland and Ireland. Tom Heap looks at why the government has finally given fracking the go ahead.
Countryfile visits East Sussex, where Sean Fletcher meets a family who have a passion for poultry. Ellie Harrison discovers the life and work of little-known British landscape artist Eric Slater, and she also meets the woman keeping the age-old craft of trug-making alive. It is an emotional day for Adam Henson as he tests his cattle for TB, plus, on this very special Armistice Day, John Craven is in the village of Rotherfield honouring the parish's war dead, 100 years on. And Tom Heap investigates the outbreak of a mystery disease that could take the UK's hare population to the brink of extinction.
Countryfile visits Cambridgeshire, where Anita Rani is at the 40th annual hedge-laying competition and meets a painter that finds trees totally inspiring. Sean Fletcher meets two water buffalo helping in the battle against invasive pennywort. Margherita Taylor is bowled over by a group of woodworkers. And it's a big day for Adam Henson as he finds out if his cattle are TB free, and Charlotte investigates claims that hundreds of villages have been condemned to an early grave.
Countryfile is in Suffolk, where John Craven takes to the water to meet the Walberswick ferrywomen. He also finds out about the age-old craft of pargetting. Margherita Taylor is on the hunt for one of our sleepiest little mammals - dormice. She also visits a farm that run an adopt-a-pig scheme. Adam Henson introduces his rams to his ewes, and Tom is looking at whether the UK is falling short when it comes to the welfare standards of one of the nation's favourite foods - fish.
Matt Baker, Sean Fletcher and Margherita Taylor are in the Cairngorms, where Matt meets Tilly Smith and her herd of 150 reindeer. The reindeer roam wild and free and a team of scientists are studying their grazing habits to assess its impact on the environment. Sean spends the day with ten-year-old Xander Johnson, who is part of a big effort to save one of the UK's rarest insects - the pine hoverfly, found only in two places in the Cairngorms and under threat in both of them. Margherita learns all about mountain safety and smartphones should not be trusted out in the wild. She also hears from Amanda Thomson, an academic who is on a mission to preserve disappearing Scots words and whose work has inspired Marina Dennis, a crofter keen to preserve old crofting traditions and the language used to describe them. And with Christmas just a week away, Adam Henson checks in on a couple of new arrivals who lend a very seasonal air to the farm, and Tom Heap investigates whether enough is being done to help the rural homeless when extreme weather hits.
Matt Baker and the team are in the small village of Elsdon in Northumberland, where preparations are in full swing for a big Christmas bash. Matt helps get the Bird in Bush pub all decked out for the party and meets some of the locals for whom the pub is much more than merely a place for a quiet drink. Steve Brown is out and about picking sloes for a festive tipple with a difference. Anita Rani turns to blacksmithing for an unusual Christmas decoration. John Craven is in the woods with the foragers looking for pine needles to give their cookies a seasonal twist. Ellie Harrison heads to Wallington Hall to see the red squirrels in all their winter pomp. Tom Heap joins the choir spreading good cheer door to door in a bid to combat isolation among the more elderly in the community. And Adam Henson is in Worcestershire at the biggest mistletoe market in the country.
Countryfile is in Hertfordshire, where Charlotte Smith meets the man who's made it his sole mission to save the barbel in the Old River Lea. Sean Fletcher builds a home fit for a Kingfisher and forages for a wild dinner. John Craven returns to his days as a scout and cooks up a storm on a woodland fire. And Adam Henson discovers the estate where rewilding and farming sit side-by-side. Now in its fifth year, what effect is culling badgers actually having on rates of TB in our cattle? Tom Heap's looking at the science behind this controversial practice.
The programme heads to the Cairngorms, where Joe Crowley is at Britain's largest national nature reserve, Mar Lodge. He is on the search for ptarmigan at the top of one of the tallest mountains in Britain. Helen Skelton meets one of Scotland's most extraordinary creatures - the golden eagle. And Adam Henson is already preparing for next year's new arrivals on his farm. Tom Heap is looking at Britain's favourite meat, chicken, and finding out what goes into supplying almost one billion chickens a year.