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Jeremy Clarkson trying to run a farm... What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Clarkson's Farm is a documentary on Amazon Prime which debuted on June 11, 2021, focusing on Jeremy Clarkson's attempts at farming.

Jeremy Clarkson purchased 1,000 acres of the former Sarsden Estate in Oxfordshire in 2008, including Curdle Hill Farm, which was farmed by a local named Howard until he retired in 2019. Clarkson then decided to try his hand at it, because how hard can it be?

Aided by his girlfriend Lisa, his land agent and agriculturalist "Cheerful" Charlie Ireland, young farmer Kaleb Cooper, dry stone wall builder Gerald Cooper (no relation) who has harvested the farm every year for the past 50 years, and shepherdess Ellen Helliwell.

Midway through production, the COVID-19 Pandemic hits, but farmers are deemed key workers, so the farm must adapt around restrictions and market changes (i.e. planting vegetables instead of barley because pubs were closed and demand for beer was down).

It was renewed for a second season in July 2021, which released on 10th February, 2023. And while a third season has been planned, the long-term future of the series is in doubt due to Clarkson making inflammatory comments on social media.

Tropes:

  • Actor Allusion: Various nods to The Grand Tour:
    • When Jeremy applies for a variance to build a farm shop, one of his neighbours opposes the idea by citing the commotion he caused when he blew up his house, which happened in "Opera, Arts and Donuts". A clip from that episode is even featured to accompany her remark.
    • While trying to show a inspector a tour of his farm via Zoom, one of the items shown is a Alfa Romeo, frequently used by Clarkson throughout the series.
    • Clarkson jokingly refers Kaleb's Volkswagen as a "grand tourer" (or GT) car.
    • Clarkson's modified Bentley Continental GT from the "A Massive Hunt" special is used in "Harvesting" as an emergency vehicle.
    • At one point in series 2, Jeremy places a second safety helmet over the first one, something he did back in the safety PSA's he did when he worked on Top Gear.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Charlie advises Jeremy to buy a used Massey-Ferguson tractor. Jeremy instead buys a Lamborghini R8 tractor. It turns out to be too big to fit in the barn (or really, anywhere else he tries to park it), the controls are confusing, and Jeremy can't read the manual (it's in German). It also comes with the wrong hitch for the equipment he needs to use, and has to have it replaced.
    • Jeremy buys a flock of sheep to control the meadows, and uses a drone to herd them. The sheep are scared of it at first, then ignore it entirely later on, forcing him to hire professional shepherdess Ellen and her sheepdog.
  • Black Comedy: Jeremy immediately follows up on selling his sheep to a slaughterhouse by having lamb for dinner. He points out that him rearing sheep really should've put him off lamb, but it simply hasn't.
  • Boring, but Practical: Much of Charlie's advice, such as buying second hand equipment at an estate sale.
  • Call to Agriculture: Jeremy takes up farming between seasons of The Grand Tour after the contract farmer retires.
  • Country Mouse: In Series One, 23-year-old Kaleb says the furthest he's been from his hometown in his new car is 12 miles. He once went on a school trip to London when he was younger, but was so scared he refused to get off the bus. In Series Two he calls his infant son "foreign" because he was born in Oxford, 20 miles away. He also doesn't read very much (if at all) and has essentially no knowledge of the world beyond his village. Jeremy, therefore, gleefully picks him to go to London to drop off some orders for the farm's clients.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lisa Hogan, Clarkson' girlfriend is much more attractive than he is and reminds him of all his foibles.
  • Demand Overload: An in-universe example (as far as "in-universe" goes for a documentary series) occurs once Clarkson opens his farm shop. His fame as a motor journalist and TV presenter means that once he advertises it on Twitter, the one-shack storefront is downright swamped with customers on its opening day, to the point where it causes traffic jams throughout Chadlington (something Clarkson ultimately issued an apology for once the cameras were off).
  • Everyone Has Standards: Clarkson may be an vocal anti-environmentalist, but even he doesn't want bugs to die off due to climate change and habitat removal, in part because they're necessary for all plant life to continue.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": Basically any time Jeremy Clarkson needs to apply for a licence or do other paperwork to comply with government regulations, he ends up stuck in a tedious series of automated phone messages.
  • Genius Ditz: Kaleb knows everything there is to know about farming, and almost nothing about anything else.
  • Green Aesop: As the series progresses, it places increasing emphasis how much harm climate change is doing to the farming industry as the issue becomes an increasingly big problem for Clarkson (a vocal anti-environmentalist) and the rest of the farm staff.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In the second series (which took place in 2021), Clarkson assured Kaleb that Russia and Ukraine were not going to go to war. It's lampshaded by the show itself (which released in 2023).
  • Ignored Epiphany: Jeremy's first attempts at tilling the fields goes wrong when he decides that, instead of doing it slowly and methodically, he'll do wide swings that leave big gaps between the rows. He realizes that this is a bad idea once he sees how it looks, but then immediately does it again while attempting to seed the field, which pisses off Kaleb to no end as he has to do more work to get the fields planted.
  • Loophole Abuse: Episode 7 of Series 2 has Clarkson tell everyone to employ this trope to get around council restrictions:
    • The farm shop can't sell their made-in-China t-shirts and hats as they're not local produce within the 16 mile radius the council enforces on them. They decide to clear out their stock by selling expensive vegetables that just so happen to come with a free shirt or hat (£15 for one Potato, get a free shirt!), as that's not technically selling them.
    • The council denies their proposal to turn the lambing shed into a restaurant, but any barn that's been on a farming property for over 10 years can be used for whatever the farmer wants, and the farm does have an old farmhouse they can refurbish...
    • To solve the parking issue, Charlie applies for parking permission on the various fields around the farm shop, knowing the council will deny them, but also knowing that the council have to wait out the 28 days until they can take action.
  • Na´ve Newcomer: Much of the show's comedy revolves around how woefully inexperienced Jeremy is at farming. He approaches the job like he would a typical challenge on Top Gear and The Grand Tour, emphasizing television-friendly flashiness above all else, and ends up stuck with ill-fitting equipment and self-sabotaging techniques, repeatedly irritating the younger, but far more experienced Kaleb. As the show progresses, he gradually gets a better hang on the ins-and-outs of farming, but still gets blindsided by new equipment and techniques at least Once an Episode.
  • No Hero to His Valet: Kaleb really doesn't give much of a toss that Jeremy is A) a celebrity and B) his employer, and does not hesitate to rib him, snark at him, or outright scold him with profanity included.
  • Not What It Looks Like: As part of a wilding effort, Jeremy cuts down a few trees in a nearby forest in order to give other plants access to sunlight. When he posts about it on Twitter, he immediately gets hit by replies from people who mistake it for one of his more typical anti-environmentalist stunts.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: A running theme in Series 2 is the local council repeatedly denying Diddly Squat farm basic farming projects. For example, Clarkson wants a farm track to connect the restaurant to the farm house, with the added benefit of keeping his tractor off of the roads, which the Council denies, despite being an active benefit for everyone involved.
    • Because the council denied them permission to build a car park near the farm shop, customers parked on the side of the roads, which the council then put "no stopping" cones to make sure people don't stop there either. As Jeremy points out, they wouldn't have needed to use the cones if they let him build parking space on his own field to begin with, and even Charlie (a well-mannered assistant than barely gets angry) is mildly furious at the council.
  • Popcultural Osmosis Failure: While discussing Kaleb's myriad of haircuts, Jeremy asks him if he's ever tried wearing his hair like Phil Oakey (i.e. long on one side, short on the other). Kaleb, being much younger than Jeremy, has no idea what he's talking about (a more contemporary comparison would be to Skrillex).
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Jeremy's main issue as he starts is that he has absolutely no idea what he's doing (and very often cuts corners, in turn causing more problems for himself) and is constantly making mistakes, driving him to seek assistance from people that live around him who actually know what they're doing.
  • Running Gag: Clarkson's choice of tractor has everyone he encounters state that it's too big for his purposes.
  • The Scream: When he discovers that the dam he built is leaking again.
  • Share the Male Pain: As part of the lambing process, Ellen puts elastic bands on the male lambs' testicles, which will castrate them by cutting off blood flow to their gonads until they fall off. Jeremy is completely creeped out and refuses to take part.
  • Tempting Fate: Jeremy finds out his farm used to be a source of spring water, so he sets out to bottle it. The testing results show two of the springs are contaminated, but one is good, so while further testing is done, he bottles it and labels it "Hasn't Got Shit In It." The testing comes back contaminated, so he has to frantically rush to the store to pull it off the shelves because it has got shit in it.
  • The Unintelligible: A Running Gag in the series is that Gerald, the Farms' head of security and occasional farm hand, has an extremely heavy West Country accent. Jeremy is never sure what he's saying and mostly just nods and agrees with him, hoping the conversation ends. This makes harvesting in the last episode a bit of a pain at first, with Gerald driving the (very loud) combine with a face mask on, muffling his speech and making him impossible to hear over the comms. Even the Subtitler Is Stumped, as half of what Gerald says is "[[Unintelligible Words]]"
  • Worth It:
    • Jeremy's profit at the end of the first series is only £144, but he considers it this because he's genuinely never felt happier in his life.
    • Opening the restaurant, something Charlie advised against doing, has him admit that it was all worth it and he was wrong to think it was a bad idea.

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