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Countryfile
Production
Running time1 hour approx.
Original release
NetworkBBC One
Release1988 –
present

Countryfile is a British magazine-style television programme produced by BBC Birmingham, first aired in 1988, which reports on rural and environmental issues within the United Kingdom. For its first 20 years it was fronted by broadcaster John Craven, until he stepped back from the role of main presenter in 2009, to be replaced by Julia Bradbury and Matt Baker. Craven continues to present a weekly investigative feature focusing on the farming and food industry.

Overview

The issues which Countryfile addresses may include animal-culling, fox hunting, organic farming, EU agricultural policy, pollution, and open access land, and as such the nature of the programme is often political, sometimes airing debates between pressure groups.

The programme's format is based to an extent on the input of viewers, and annual photography competitions based on the beauty of the British countryside are part of this. The winning images of the competition are featured in the annual Countryfile Calendar, the profits from which - £750,000 in 2009 - go to the annual BBC Children In Need charity appeal.

Another feature is the Video Diary, which documents some aspects of agricultural or rural life in the countryside, filmed and produced by a member of the British public. Each week in the last ten minutes of the programme, there is a weather forecast for the next five days by called "weather for the week ahead" from the BBC Weather Centre.

A Countryfile segment being filmed with Matt Baker at Cotswold Airport, Gloucestershire

2007 saw the return of Countryfile: The Summer Diaries, which was previously presented by Chris Packham and Melissa Porter where the show looked at the towns and villages of Wensleydale in North Yorkshire and some resident's lives. The second series is presented by Matt Baker and Melissa Porter who discover some of the history and nature that the county of Devon has to offer. Michael Caines, a local chef, features, cooking dishes using local produce.

October 2007 saw the launch of BBC Countryfile magazine, a new spin-off magazine from BBC Magazines. The monthly title is a glossy magazine covering aspects of country life. The magazine is edited by Cavan Scott.

On 27 July 2008, a special anniversary programme of Countryfile was broadcast, marking the 20th anniversary of the show. It revisited the highs and lows of the past twenty years, including BSE, foot and mouth, Avian flu, Bluetongue and the Red Kite to the UK.

In 2009, Countryfile moved to a 7pm slot on Sunday evenings, with additional presenters Julia Bradbury and Matt Baker and additional contributors Jules Hudson, Katie Knapman and James Wong. Craven continues as a weekly contributor to the programme, presenting a rural news roundup and other items, while it continues to draw upon a pool of regular and occasional reporters.

The Sunday morning slot was taken over by a new outdoors activity show called Country Tracks, hosted by Ben Fogle, Joe Crowley and Ellie Harrison, which mixes archive footage from Countryfile with newly-filmed sequences to create a different journey through the UK each week. [1][2]

The show will move to High Definition television in late 2009. Also the team headed down to Adam's Farm for a Christmas meal.[3]

The theme music for the programme is composed by David Lowe who also wrote the original theme in 1988.

Miriam O'Reilly case

In November 2010, the BBC faced an employment tribunal following allegations of sexism and ageism brought against the corporation by ex-reporter, Miriam O'Reilly. O'Reilly sued the BBC due to the allegations following her dismissal from the programme in 2009, along with other female reporters, Michaela Strachan, Juliet Morris and Charlotte Smith.[4] It followed the decision to move the programme to a prime-time slot with a refreshed presenting team.[5] Former BBC One controller Jay Hunt told the tribunal the claims were "entirely and categorically untrue" as well as "profoundly distressing and utterly offensive," arguing that the only reason for O'Reilly's departure was because she was not recognisable to a peaktime audience. In January 2011, O'Reilly won the employment tribunal on the grounds of ageism and victimisation, but not sexism.[6]

Main presenter (November 2010)

Reporters and co-presenters

Former main presenters

Former reporters

References

  1. ^ BBC - Countryfile moves to peak time on BBC One, 6 March 2009
  2. ^ BBC - BBC Daytime announces new rural affairs series, Country Tracks, 15 January 2009
  3. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/06/hd_masters_conference_keynote.html
  4. ^ 'Fir and loathing on the Countryfile set' The Independent 13 November 2010.
  5. ^ 'BBC producer wanted 'pretty' to replace 53-year old Countryfile star' Daily Mail 12 November 2010.
  6. ^ "Miriam O'Reilly wins Countryfile ageism claim". BBC News. 11 January, 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-11. ((cite web)): Check date values in: |date= (help)