CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: A favourite pig called Sausage! What next, Beefburger the cow?


CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: A favourite pig called Sausage! What next, Beefburger the cow?

Escape To The Farm With Kate Humble

Rating:

Craig & Danny: Funny, Black And On TV

Rating:

There cannot be a more contented country girl on telly than Kate Humble. Whether she’s grinding her own flour, rebuilding a dry stone wall or wading in a trout river, she always seems so happy with life.

Her cheerfulness is infectious. As she chunters about her Welsh home at the foot of the Black Mountains in Escape To The Farm (C5), everything seems to delight Kate.

She skipped down the meadow like a schoolgirl in an Enid Blyton story to see her friend Old Man Oak, a giant 50ft high surrounded by foxgloves. Seen from an aerial drone, the tree was magnificent. ‘Bats nest in him,’ Kate declared proudly, looking like she’d be jolly pleased if a pipistrelle or two decided to roost in her own hair.

Country lore says that an ancient tree’s age can be measured in hugs. Stretch your arms wide around the trunk — every full span represents a century of growth. Old Man Oak’s girth is six hugs or 600 years. ‘I hope I look as good when I’m his age,’ Kate declared.

Kate Humble chunters about her Welsh home at the foot of the Black Mountains in Escape To The Farm

Kate Humble chunters about her Welsh home at the foot of the Black Mountains in Escape To The Farm

As the title promises, this show really does offer escapism. There wasn’t a dour note in the whole hour. It doesn’t try to lecture us either, as Countryfile sometimes does. We took a trip to a water mill, and had a lesson in repairing a stone wall with a retired Army major called Ken, but all this was soothing rather than educational.

Even when Kate turned James Herriot to help her favourite pig deliver a litter of piglets, the style was stress free.

Four-year-old Sausage the sow lay on her side while Kate tickled her ears and explained how to tell various breeds of pig apart — they all smell different, she insisted.

Welsh pigs like Sausage smell of biscuits, apparently. I bet you don’t see many farmers using that method at market.

What a name for a pig, though. You might as well call a cow Beefburger.

Quarantine of the week:

Little Grey and Little White, the belugas that John Bishop helped to save in Great Whale Rescue (ITV), had to spend more than a year self-isolating before their release into the sea. They gained 30 stone. I know how they feel…

It’s a pleasure to watch a nature programme that doesn’t harangue us over climate change or try to make us feel guilty and anxious about the decline in butterflies.

It’s a pity that Red Dwarf stars Craig Charles and Danny John-Jules couldn’t take the same approach in their survey of black comedy talent.

The emphasis in Funny, Black And On TV (ITV) was very much on TV politics rather than laughs. Much of the show was taken up with performers such as Richard Blackwood, complaining that TV bosses had cancelled their shows and didn’t give black performers enough of a chance.

But surely every comedian and actor whose series is ever taken off air feels hard done by.

We saw the same clips over and over — a teenage Lenny Henry doing his ‘Ooh Betty’ impression of Frank Spencer, on the Seventies talent show New Faces, for instance.

The scenes from classic sitcoms such as Desmond’s and Rising Damp were so short that it was impossible to see how sublime the comic timing of stars such as Norman Beaton and Don Warrington really was.

It seemed there was no budget for longer excerpts, which cost more. The subject deserved better than this penny-pinching.

Not nearly enough time was devoted to the new stars leading the way, such as Bafta winners Mo Gilligan and Michaela Coel, who were squeezed in at the end.

Neither was there any space for black comedians whose fame came too early for TV — like the one-armed juggler and Victorian music hall act, J.H. Maxwell. Now there’s a performer who’d be a sensation on Britain’s Got Talent.

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