HE’S on borrowed time after recommending a Game of Thrones-inspired punishment for a divisive Royal, but one of the UK’s favourite sarcastic antediluvians still creates captivating television.
Jeremy Clarkson’s Grand Tours with old pals Richard Hammond and James May are undoubtedly running on fumes, as they progressively risk death and appear more concerned with pranking each other than getting somewhere.
Clarkson’s Farm, on the other hand, continues to delight, revealing a softer side to the now 62-year-old while demonstrating that he is still as irascible, irrepressible, and irresponsible as ever.
2021’s first edition was something of a revelation. What could have been just a different setting for him to unleash his now trademark boorish insolence, incompetence and indifference to others, instead offered up a Clarkson who could be insightful – and just occasionally – introspective.
Underneath all the show pony antics, it was evident he had a genuine affection for his 1000-acre Chipping Norton refuge, which he not only felt in his wallet when things didn’t go as planned.
After an 18-month hiatus, we’re back on Clarkson’s Farm for the first of two eight-episode installments before Amazon and their “controversy-prone” celebrity part ways.
It’s July 2021, 12 months after the cameras left Diddly Squat, and things have changed. The “ruinously expensive” sheep are now maintained by a “genuine farmer” with whom Clarkson “shares the losses,” millions more bees have been introduced to the land, and durum wheat has been added to the crops.
One unintended consequence of the show has been the success of the farm shop, which has prompted concern for both its owner – and residents. “I just didn’t think it through,” Clarkson says as he is forced to give up two acres of wheat to build a parking lot to meet the ongoing demand.
However, a deeper crisis lurks. Brexit has resulted in the loss of EU funding and subsidies for farmers. With Boris’ government’s promises to make up any gap appearing hollow, Clarkson decides to take matters into his own hands – and buy some cows.
His ultimate strategy? Convert the lambing barn into a restaurant serving only Diddly Squat-grown and produced food. There are only a few obstacles to conquer first.
Aside from ensuring adequate fencing and keeping his new bonny bovines away from the protected TB-carrying badgers, there’s also the minor matter of obtaining planning permission from the local council – which means winning over the locals, who are already enraged by his recent activities and behavior.
Many of the fun, like in the previous series, stem from Clarkson’s bull-at-a-gate approach to farming and its rollercoaster effects. There are plenty of fun “cack-handed palavas” and opportunities for his teenage advisor Kaleb Cooper to colourfully berate him between an expensive moment of recklessness while driving a tractor and an ill-timed choice to change the tyres on that monstrous Lamborghini R8.
Cooper is the standout of a magnificent supporting cast that includes Clarkson’s long-suffering but razor-sharp girlfriend Lisa Hogan, land agent and “voice of reason” Charlie Ireland, and a pair of local brothers who should come with subtitles.
Add in some deftly and delightfully chosen classic soundtrack tracks (from The Who to Simon and Garfunkel), and you can’t help but be intrigued by Clarkson’s attempts to change his farm into something both profitable and sustainable.
Clarkson’s Farm Season 2 is now available on Prime Video.