Clarkson's Farm: Sheep bring Amazon's Tour king down to earth in Grand new show
REVIEW: Jeremy Clarkson is back and there’s not a test track or star in a reasonable priced car in sight.
Instead of grand touring around the globe, he’s decidedly confined to home turf in his latest, eight-part series Clarkson’s Farm (which begins streaming on Amazon Prime Video today).
However, while he has lorded over his 1000-acre Chipping Norton haven since 2008, when it comes to “doing farming”, he quickly discovers he’s very much on foreign soil.
Despite pushing 60 and having smoked almost three-quarters of a million cigarettes, Clarkson has decided that, with his “chap from the village” retiring, it might just be time to try looking after the property himself.
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“I’m basically Alan Sugar in wellies,” he boasts, after some early wheeling-and-dealing, but a few home truths, suspect shortcuts and simply bad decision making later, he finds himself hoping that “eventually, they’ll be something I can actually do”.
It doesn’t help that he couldn’t have picked a worse year to get his handy dirty and feet wet. Not only are there record rainfalls in the first few weeks of his stewardship, but there’s a global pandemic to disrupt the normal order of things.
Grand Tour and Top Gear fans worried that their favourite acerbic antediluvian has gone green need not worry, Clarkson is still just as irascible, irrepressible and irresponsible as ever.
Concerned that the local tractor dealership’s most powerful vehicle only boasts “a feeble” 45 horsepower (“It fed the country,” the salesman argues. “People didn’t eat much in those days,” Clarkson retorts), he simply decides to purchase a humongous Lamborghini R8 that not only proves too big for his barn, but also incompatible with any other equipment and requires a working knowledge of the German language to operate. Likewise, he has no time for man’s best friend when a barking search and rescue drone could do the job for potentially a fraction of the cost.
Shorn of his usual compadres/co-conspirators James May and the Richard Hammond, Clarkson instead has an eclectic array of agricultural advisers, whose sole job appears to be calling him out and desperately attempting to keep him on track. Girlfriend Lisa Hogan’s rare appearances involve plenty of “supportive” head-shaking, National Farmer Union’s Georgia Craig gives him his first driving lesson in 42 years and agent Charlie Ireland fruitlessly attempts to rein in Clarkson’s more fanciful notions. “Farming is a patience game – and he’s not the most patient man,” he confides to the crew.
Others push back harder. Young farmhand Kaleb Cooper might have only visited London once (and stayed on the coach), but he knows this property like the back of his hand and isn’t afraid to chew his boss out, while the local vet responds to the query of how much a callout will cost, with a cheeky, “think of a number, double it – and we’ll start there”.
But what could have been just a different setting for what has become Clarkson’s now trademark boorish insolence, incompetence and indifference to others, is instead surprisingly insightful and just occasionally introspective.
Underneath all the show pony posturing, it’s clear he has a real affinity for his property. Delighted that his public school education has come in handy when it comes to measuring visiting rams Wayne and Leonardo, he seems genuinely upset when later faced with the prospect of culling some of his “lady sheep”.
You’ll believe a enfant terrible and agent provocateur can cry. At least for a moment, until he’s later seen tucking into a delicious helping of Shepherd’s Pie.
Clarkson’s Farm begins streaming on Amazon Prime Video on June 11.