Thursday 16 March 2023

Is Clarkson's Farm the best non-fiction TV series ever?


That, anyway, seems to be the consensus across a pretty broad, and very large, public viewership. Certainly, I've never seen anything - in any media (not even for fiction, or classic movies) - to compare with Clarkson's Farm's 9/10 IMDB rating from 45,000 people - and indeed, Series 1 was running at something like 9.8/10 for a long time. 

All this for a documentary!

There are some people who are allergic to Jeremy Clarkson, and cannot stand him at any price, and whatever he does - and have been working tirelessly for years to destroy him. But I regard him as one of the most original and supremely talented TV makers of the past several decades. 

Clarkson's Farm is about his venture into farming, knowing essentially nothing about it - and Jeremy plays the part of himself, as usual - which (by all accounts) is simply an exaggerated version of real life; which is why it comes across as authentic. 

The series is very funny; very interesting and surprisingly informative about farming; very revealing about the soul-destroying horrors of government and bureaucracy in modern Britain; and develops an unforgettable 'cast' of fascinating 'real'-life characters, of Dickensian colourfulness and variety.   

The programmes are superbly crafted - as well as having great content; the editing and thematic shaping are stunningly well-done. 

Of course - there have been much more profound and/or moving TV non-fiction series over the years. There is nothing like as much meat here as in The Ascent of Man, Time Team, Michael Wood's In Search of Shakespeare, or the BBC Historic Farms. 

But at its level of immediately and generally accessible, informative light entertainment - plus a bit more - Clarkson's farm is as-good-as-it-gets.

Or better...


stephens said...

Wasn't expecting much so surprised how great it was. Who would of thought Farming could be this entertaining?

Epimetheus said...

Top Gear is a masterpiece. I always took that to be somewhat close to his sincere persona. Big guy with an ADHD sense of humor. The only other person who matches their screen character like that might be Nick Cage (poor guy).

Bruce Charlton said...

@Epi - I would say that Nick Cage is actually different. He is a very good and highly professional actor, and can do almost anything required of him.

But Cage is the opposite of a method actor who prepares for a role by saturation and identification, (partly because Cage does So Many movies, far more than any other major Western star). Therefore, I guess, Cage rolls-up to the latest job without any preconceptions - and he depends upon the director to tell him what to do.

If the director is good at his job, and knows what he wants - Cage can give it. But if not, he just goes onto autopilot - and is unimpressive.

Then when Cage has finished a job, he forgets about it - and moves onto the next.

In other words, Cage is a kind of chameleon, and probably doesn't have much 'personality' IRL; which is different from Clarkson - who is *always* Clarkson (and quite often 2-300 percent Clarkson!)

a_probst said...

I'll have to look in on this show. I've only seen what might be thought of as a fictional precursor, the comedy series Good Neighbors, aka The Good Life.