Clarkson's Farm, series 2 review: Jeremy goes full throttle against Brexit and the council
Reports of Jeremy Clarkson’s cancellation have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, Amazon and ITV made vague noises about not renewing his contracts at some point in the future. But that future is a long way away. For now, he’s back with a new series of Clarkson’s Farm (Amazon Prime Video), being as defiantly Jeremy Clarkson-ish as ever.
If Amazon is going a bit cold on Clarkson, according to TV insiders, it is nothing to do with Harry and Meghan, but rather that Clarkson’s Farm doesn’t do well internationally. You can see why: this is the most English show imaginable. The second series is an epic tale of one man’s battle with West Oxfordshire District Council.
Having set up the Diddly Squat farm shop – where fans queue for hours to buy £16.50 jars of Bee Juice (honey) bearing a picture of Clarkson’s face – he has set his sights upon opening a restaurant, serving beef from his own herd. This will entail having a herd in the first place so Clarkson gets some cows, with predictably hilarious results (his knowledge of the animals extends to asking Charlie, his long-suffering land agent: “Are we buying lady cows or man cows?”). But his plans are thwarted at every turn by council officials and hostile locals.
We follow the restaurant plans from bright idea to grand opening, with Clarkson thinking up ever more ingenious ways to outplay his enemies. “We’re going to have to live in a murky grey area of loopholes and cunning wheezes,” he says. An example: when council officials say the farm shop can no longer sell branded T-shirts – it was granted a licence on the grounds that all goods were locally produced, and the T-shirts were made in Vietnam – Clarkson and girlfriend Lisa tell customers they can buy a single Brussels sprout for £20 and have a free T-shirt thrown in.
There is some farming to be done too. We see crops harvested, animals tended and Clarkson crashing his tractor into a telegraph pole. Clarkson rages against Brexit, bureaucracy and badgers – as farmers have pointed out, he has done more to highlight the plight of British farmers than Countryfile has managed in 30 years.
Clarkson is aided once again by Kaleb, now a household name after his star-making turn in series one. Unintelligible Gerald is also back, while Charlie is the wonderfully calm and capable presence holding this whole enterprise together. But the interplay between Clarkson and Kaleb remains the comedy mainstay. We learn in this series that Kaleb has never been on a train, never been to an Indian restaurant, and describes his baby as “foreign” (on account of the baby being born in Oxford). The series is unscripted but there are moments here when you suspect that subjects are being brought up, or lines being fed, at the producers’ request, which occasionally gives the Clarkson and Kaleb scenes a stagey feel; there is one particularly painful conversation about the difference between Genghis Khan and Gandhi.
But it remains thoroughly enjoyable viewing. Unless you are one of Clarkson’s disgruntled neighbours, or a member of West Oxfordshire District Council, in which case I suggest you give this show a miss for the sake of your blood pressure.
Series two of Clarkson's Farm is on Amazon Prime Video from Friday February 10