SARAH VINE’S My TV Week: Crass, outrageous, but Jeremy Clarkson makes great TV!
Amazon Prime video
Few public figures divide opinion quite as much as Jeremy Clarkson. Many, it seems, hate him on a cellular level. To coin a phrase, they lie awake at night, grinding their teeth and dreaming of the day he is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant ‘Shame!’ and throw lumps of excrement at him.
Lately those people have seen their wish come true, in a virtual sense at least, as Clarkson’s own misjudged comments about the Duchess of Sussex in a newspaper article have seen him all but cancelled.
Few public figures divide opinion quite as much as Jeremy Clarkson. Many, it seems, hate him on a cellular level
Despite repeated and profuse apologies, question marks now hang over the future of his two hit Amazon Prime Video shows, The Grand Tour and this, Clarkson’s Farm, and it’s not entirely clear where ITV stands on his role as presenter of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?.
There’s no doubt Clarkson went too far in his piece about Meghan. There are some things that are just better left unsaid. But for those who find his brand of unreconstructed, unapologetic, pot-bellied political incorrectness as refreshing as an ice-cold pint in the Gobi desert, the hoo-ha won’t have made much difference.
Yes, some – indeed many – of the things he says are crass and outrageous; but I for one still find him less annoying than all the sanctimonious snowflakes he specialises in scandalising. Plus, what can I say: he makes great TV.
This second series of Clarkson’s Farm is, I’m afraid, completely brilliant. Funny, clever, touching, tragic on a human (and animal) level; but also hugely insightful, informative and eye-opening from the point of view of farming, and the issues facing rural communities in general.
The insanity of the situations that farmers face on a day-to-day basis, hamstrung by red tape and regulations, is a scandal that deserves much wider attention. They are, after all, custodians of this green and pleasant land, and many can’t even afford to pay themselves a living wage.
Clarkson himself takes the role of idiot savant, the townie incompetent, forever driving into fences and breaking expensive bits of machinery. It’s a bit disingenuous: in actual fact he’s sharp as a box of tacks – as evidenced whenever he has to interact with the hostile locals or deal with anything really serious.
But his bumbling demeanour is a great ruse, not only for ensuring that those around him take care of all the really hard work (he’s perfectly capable of driving a tractor in a straight line, but it’s just so much easier, and more entertaining, to mess it up so someone else has to finish the job), but also in terms of comedic value. He does an excellent line in contrite Clarkson.
That said, he does muck in when the task truly demands it. In particular, he adores his animals, and I always think that’s a good sign in a man. Like all blunderbuss blokes of his ilk, he has a soft spot for a pair of big brown eyes and long lashes, especially if they happen to belong to a baby cow.
Jeremy Clarkson wlives in awe of his partner, Lisa (pictured together), who is a superstar: smart, sexy, tough, extremely capable
He lives in awe of his partner, Lisa, who is a superstar: smart, sexy, tough, extremely capable. When he’s around her it’s as though he can’t quite believe his eyes, and I expect many viewers share his sense of disbelief that he managed to bag someone quite so fabulous.
Others around him clearly harbour a great deal of affection for the old fool. Kaleb, his ruddy-cheeked, quick-tempered farm manager; Charlie, his fixer, all dry wit and the patience of a saint; his ‘head of security’ Gerald, as incomprehensible as he is wise.
For now, Clarkson may indeed be down. But out? I wouldn’t bet on it.
‘I look after a cat or a dog. They look after a species on the edge of extinction.’
– The Supervet salutes South Africa’s vets in a Safari Special, Thursday, Ch4
Space Force, a Netflix satire about the US government launching a galactic military unit, starring (and co-written by) Steve Carell, with John Malkovich and Lisa Kudrow
A slightly quirky recommendation for you: Space Force, a Netflix satire about the US government launching a galactic military unit, starring (and co-written by) Steve Carell, with John Malkovich and Lisa Kudrow.
Aside from the obvious hilarity of Americans trying to militarise everything in existence, the witty writing – with nihilistic, deadpan commentary from Malkovich alongside Carell’s constant mild hysteria – makes this a proper little gem.
Think The Office meets Star Trek. Sadly, it was cancelled after two series, probably for being too un-American. Fun for a cynical Brit, though.
All Quiet On The Western Front (Netflix) is one of the most relentless pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen
All Quiet On The Western Front (Netflix), a remake of the 1930 film, is one of the most relentless pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen. It’s both utterly horrific and also completely brilliant, unflinching in its portrayal of the madness of war and sadly no less relevant than it was all those decades ago. Do watch if you can, but you might need a stiff drink.
Paradise lives on… in sunny Devon
Having relocated to Devon, Humphrey (Kris Marshall) wants to settle down and start a family with his fiancée Martha (Sally Bretton)
The Daily Mail’s TV critic Sarah Vine has given the new season Clarkson Farm a five-star review
I always rather enjoyed Death In Paradise, the BBC’s rather implausible detective series set on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint Marie and starring first Ben Miller, then Kris Marshall, Ardal O’Hanlon and now Ralf Little. It has undeniable charm – and it clearly gets the numbers, or it wouldn’t still be going.
This is a spin-off revolving around the island’s second incumbent bumbling Brit, Marshall’s DI Humphrey Goodman. Having relocated to Devon, Humphrey wants to settle down and start a family with his fiancée Martha (Sally Bretton).
First, though, he must win over the locals, including Martha’s mother (a fabulously stern Barbara Flynn), his new detective sergeant, Esther (a cynical Zahra Ahmadi), and the police station’s terrifying matriarch Margo (Felicity Montagu in full sail).
It’s got all the elements of the original (if it ain’t broke…) including the sensible female DS, the naive yet adorable local boy PC (Dylan Llewellyn from Derry Girls) and the inevitably bonkers crime scenarios (in this first episode a woman who believes she was attacked by a 17th-century witch). Plus, of course, the usual array of suspicious spouses, obnoxious politicians, local superstitions and terrifying old ladies.
If you like gentle, cup-of-tea-and-a-nice-biscuit crime dramas, you’ll have no complaints here.
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