Love in the Countryside

Sex and the City is all very well, but finding love can be a lot trickier when you live in the middle of nowhere and spend your days ankle-deep in pig muck. 

Fortunately, Cupid is on hand in the form of farmer’s daughter Sara Cox, who’s on a mission to pair eight sons and daughters of the soil – some more horny-handed than others – with their perfect partners. (City slickers need not apply – or if they do, they should at least be prepared to swap their Manolo Blahniks for a pair of green wellies.)

Pete, a 60-year-old divorced Yorkshire dairy farmer, has been single for eight years. ‘Cows are better behaved than women,’ he declared, possibly revealing why he’s been single for eight years. Others’ stories were more poignant: 32-year-old Christine gave up a good job in Edinburgh to nurse her dying father, and now runs the family’s 250-acre beef farm single-handed. ‘I want to live life to the full,’ she said. ‘Not by myself.’

When Cox gathered them together at a country hotel for a slap-up meal (and a rare lie-in), all eight hopefuls were presented with ‘love letters’ from potential suitors. Heather, a strikingly glamorous equine vet who could probably have been a model if she hadn’t elected to spend her life at the business end of a horse, predictably received loads, including at least one bare bum shot (fortunately she likes ‘rugger boys’, so he was a shoo-in). 

Pete, meanwhile, was so struck by the picture sent in by 36-year-old Francesca, he moved her straight into the yes pile without even reading the letter, having concluded ‘she’d be worth a run round’t kitchen table’. (Based on her name and olive skin, he’d assumed her to be from ‘somewhere exotic’, but she turned out to be from Leeds, and referred to cows as ‘mooies’.)

Next week, we go down on the farm to begin the serious task of sorting the wheat from the chaff. ‘It’s just like cattle judging, really’ observed one of Pete’s sons. Sounds like one lucky lady could be in line for a Best in Show rosette.

TV extra:


Home From Home

Memo to BBC’s comedy commissioning department: U OK HUN? Should we send help? I honestly didn’t think we’d see a more creakingly anachronistic show than Hold the Sunset in 2018, but Home from Home – starring Johnny Vegas as a newsagent from Stoke starting a new life in a Lake District holiday park, with no discernibly hilarious consequences – makes Last of the Summer Wine look like Fleabag. Nice scenery, though.


The Letdown

This brilliant, unflinching Australian comedy drama, starring (and co-written by) Alison Bell as a new mother permanently on the verge of a nervous breakdown, certainly doesn’t sugar-coat the “joys” of parenthood. On the contrary, it’s a rolling catalogue of incontinence, leaky breasts and awkward sex, centred around a woman who brings a copy of Frankenstein along to baby book club on the basis that it’s ‘a cautionary tale about creating a monster’. Painfully funny.


Published in Waitrose Weekend, May 3, 2018

(c) Waitrose Weekend