Robin Scott wants to know why, in a world where the Great British Sewing Bee exists, we can't get a decent countryside or fieldsports programme on our television screens
I rarely watch TV because so many programmes are depressing beyond belief, or they’re repeats. Often both.
And talk of boring. The word fracking comes to mind. I mean, just how many more ‘Great British’ themes can they possibly dream up?
We’ve had cook offs, bake offs and now, of all darned things, a sew off. Yes, stitching for God’s sake! How thrilling is that! Don’t know about you, but I’m really busting a gut to get into my nearest haberdashery and stock up on needles, thread and thimbles before they sell out.
Knitting’s bound to be next, or maybe leek growing? Then again, what about cheese making? ‘The Great British Cheesed Off’ has a nice ring to its title, don’t you think?
I dislike soaps with a passion but there was a time when we did at least get to see a gamekeeper or farmer on Emmerdale carrying a shotgun and a brace of rabbits for the pot occasionally. But not now.
And that’s the point: why can’t the Beeb and ITV screen at least one programme a week with an unashamed countryside or fieldsports thread running through it? There are countless folk out here who would love to tune into a proper country magazine programme – and not just those of us who shoot, fish or follow hounds. Just look at the millions who enjoyed watching the Starshot series each week on BBC2 before Michael Ryan’s gun rampage in Hungerford prompted producers to pull the plug on it.
In an ideal world, Countryfile could so easily fill the yawning void if it were to give fieldsports and related topics, issues and people the air time commensurate to their place, importance and influence in real rural life. Instead we’re served a heavily edited, sanitised, version of it. Time was when we had a brilliant weekly helping of a programme called Out of Town, hosted by Jack Hargreaves, a countryman with a no-nonsense view on everything from stickmaking to shooting, hedge laying to hurdling. His presentation was always gentle, informative, insightful and educational. He never preached, nor was he pretentious.
Surely it’s not beyond the wit of today’s programme makers to serve up something in similar vein? Goodness knows it’s needed now more than it ever was before.