I was sceptical about Clarkson’s Farm when I heard about it, never having enjoyed Clarkson’s orchestrated car adventures in Top Gear. But I watched it, was glued to it, forgave him for the frequent set-ups, thought it was beautifully filmed and concluded that it was, quite simply, a majestic piece of documentary film-making. And even though you know that the final evening picnic/drinks scene was yet another set piece, it actually moved me to tears.
Having embarked on the idea of farming in Oxfordshire, it was the idiosyncrasy of his setup that gave him the idea that it might make good telly. “It’s a funny little dysfunctional family we’ve got there but it’s great,” he has said. “It’s such a harmonious and wonderful workplace. I thought, ‘This might work on television’.” So he pitched it to the BBC, which passed on the idea. Amazon, however, says Clarkson: “immediately said yes.”
And how satisfied and pleased it must be. It has proven to be Amazon Prime Video’s highest-ever rated show, driving awareness of the channel and drawing increasing numbers of viewers to the streaming service, which launched in the UK in 2016.