Five minutes with… Jeremy Clarkson
Growing wasabi, herding sheep (literally) and figuring out harvesting logistics… all things you'd never have previously associated with former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson.
But the outspoken TV star, 62, is back in his wellies and revving up the tractor for a second instalment of Clarkson's Farm on Prime Video.
The series, which will follow another year in the life of Diddly Squat Farm in Chipping Norton, sees Clarkson return as the amateur farmer with big ideas, along with everyone's favourite farmer Kaleb, Gerald and his fantastic West Country accent, agricultural adviser Charlie and Jeremy's girlfriend and farm shop keeper Lisa.
The upcoming instalment, which has eight episodes, launches amid controversy that's far-removed from farming life as the star of the series, Clarkson, deals with the fallout of a December column in The Sun newspaper, in which he conveyed his dislike of Meghan Markle.
Both Clarkson and The Sun have issued apologies, with an Instagram post from the TV star saying he emailed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Christmas Day to apologise and say his language in the column had been “disgraceful” and that he was “profoundly sorry”.
Prior to the controversy, Clarkson sat down to talk about the new series of his farming show, including his new agricultural ventures of cow farming, chilli-growing and beer-making, and a serious chat around the big issues facing modern farmers.
THE FIRST SERIES OF CLARKSON'S FARM WAS, OF COURSE, A HUGE SUCCESS. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS WAS?
The show came out shortly after the Covid pandemic, and around that time a lot of people toyed with the idea of moving from the city to the countryside.
There have been countryside programmes before, of course, but they tend to be quite twee.
I really like Kate Humble and people who do that kind of thing, so I don't want to have a go, but people think of the countryside as a newborn lamb and fresh straw in a lovely, old barn. And I think my programme has shown the reality.
THIS SERIES YOU'RE BRANCHING INTO COW FARMING – WHY?
You put cows in a field. They keep the grass down. They turn the grass into manure, effectively. And then you keep them in a very small area of the field, so they eat every bit of grass and cover every square inch with faeces.
The next day you move them, and you put hens where the cows were, and the hens eat the worms out of the cow s***, and then trample the cow s*** and their own s*** into the fields.
So, you fertilise it using natural stuff, rather than chemical nitrates, which is what you used to do. I thought: “Right! Well, I'll get some cows.” But I don't know anything about cow farming. Literally nothing at all.
It's been a year of total disasters on the cow front. Absolute disasters, because I didn't know anything.
I shouldn't have had cows. It was a mad thing to have got.
YOU'VE ALSO STARTED ON CHILLIES, AND BEER…
Well, I was like: “I like chilli sauce. I like chilli in food and things.” And I thought: “Well, that can't be very difficult. We should get some chillies, and then we should grow them.”
I thought it would be fun to grow Carolina Reapers because it's very easy to grow them and they're very prolific. But my God, they're hot.
When I first tasted them, they caused me to actually burp while being sick which is something I've never experienced before.
Anyway, we made a sauce out of them. One sauce was lovely and just beautifully spicy, then we did a hotter one which I think, in hindsight, was a bit too hot. We're going to put it on sale anyway – “come and have a go, if you think you're hard enough” sort of thing.
So, yeah, the beer's gone well, and the chillies have gone well.
It's really good fun, developing your own lager. It seems to be very popular now, which is great. I think we're selling it to about 100 pubs now.
YOU ALSO SHOW FARMING'S DARKER SIDE THIS SERIES. YOU MEET EMMA, A FARMER WHO SAYS SHE CAN'T AFFORD TO TAKE A WAGE – DID THAT SURPRISE YOU?
I was generally aware of this, but there's so much of it now.
Dairy's in a proper mess because of TB and badgers. Pigs are in a real pickle because of lots of things, Brexit being the main one.
Poultry farmers are in a total mess because of bird flu. Cereal farmers like myself are in a mess because we don't know what we're supposed to be growing, or what fertilisers we're supposed to be using — and fertiliser is now costing £1,000 a tonne rather than £200 like last year.
So, in every area, it's a nightmare. It's not a disaster for me because I've got other ways of earning a living but if you haven't – and 99.9% of farmers don't have another income stream – then a lot of them are simply not taking a wage.
They're working seven days a week with their arm up a cow's bottom for nothing. And they're absolutely powerless.
And people will not pay properly for their food. Food is far too cheap. I know you can't say that, but it's far too cheap. If the Government said, “Right, we're going to double the price of food”, they'd be out of office within five minutes. But that's what they've got to do, really.
KALEB, WHO WE LOVED IN SERIES ONE, IS BACK ALONG WITH LISA, GERALD AND CHARLIE…
(Kaleb's) got a bit to learn about TV still but, yeah, he's massively successful, and rightly so. He deserves every bit of it. He's very hard-working, entrepreneurial, and clever.
He'd never seen the farm from the air, so we borrowed a helicopter, and took him up in it, and he was like: “Do I need a passport?”. “No, Kaleb. We're not going more than a mile, and we're landing straight back here again.”
Charlie is also down-to-earth. Gerald is down-to-earth.
Nobody would ever call Lisa down-to-earth, but if you had seen her yesterday – it was absolutely sluicing it down, and blowing such a gale and my tractor, which is not small, was being buffeted by the winds. And the two of us were out, making this fence on the highest part of the bleakest, most wind-set part of the farm.
That's what makes it good, I think, because it's all very real. It's very real, down-to-earth, normal people.
Clarkson's Farm series 2 launches on Prime Video on Friday February 10.