Opinion: TV should show more than cute lambs

I asked myself the question recently: Have we reached saturation point for farming TV programmes?

Shortly after this, however, I was chatting to a lady and mentioned I live on a working farm. “I’ve always wanted to live on a farm,” she said. “What animals do you have?”

I then watched her smile be replaced by a look of horror, shortly followed by a confused expression, as I told her that we didn’t have any animals.

“What do you mean your farm doesn’t have any animals?” she said. “What do you do?”

See also: Lucy Nott – diversify, but only if it’s right for you

About the author

Lucy Nott
Farmlife opinion writer
Lucy lives with her husband, a sixth-generation farmer, and their two children on a 100ha (250 acre) arable farm in Worcestershire. On the farm they have a passion for regenerative agriculture and aspire to transition to a regenerative system. They are also part of the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot and are trialling lots of new things on the farm. They hosted their first LEAF Open Farm Sunday (LOFS) this year and Lucy is now the LOFS Ambassador for the West Midlands.
Read more articles by Lucy Nott

I glanced down at the crisps and meal deal sandwich poking out of her bag, took a deep breath and told my inner sarcasm to behave.

“Well,” I replied, “we’re an arable farm, which means we grow things like wheat, which makes bread.”

I could see the cogs turning as she glanced down at her lunch, so I took another calming breath and smiled.

“Farmers across the country grow a whole variety of produce from potatoes to strawberries and even unusual grains like quinoa.” The conversation continued… 

So, back to my question about TV programmes. Clearly, as this conversation showed, the answer is no.

We need to keep seizing every opportunity to get British food production on screens in people’s homes.

Cute animals make good TV, but we need the programmes that show the full spectrum of agriculture and don’t sugarcoat the realities of modern farming.

We need fewer programmes showing cute lambs skipping around (and wholesome wives baking cakes) and more that actually give the range of British farmers a voice.

Mainstream TV has the power to reach audiences we otherwise might not engage with.

Whether it be one-off reports or dedicated programmes, TV also has the ability to span the generations, which other mediums, such as social media, do not.

I’m sure there are many parents who could even learn a thing or two from Tractor Ted…