Countryfile is in the eastern county of Suffolk. Matt Baker explores the boating heritage of the area, as he puts the finishing touches to a very special boat called the Nancy Blackett. She was once owned by the author of Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome, and inspired some of his later work. Matt is hoping she is ship-shape and ready to sail by the end of the programme.
Ellie Harrison is on the only island off the county's coastline, Havergate Island. It is an important site for the RSPB, as it is home to pairs of avocets - but Ellie is hoping to see spring hares boxing. Ellie also finds out about Suffolk landscape artist Gainsborough. Inspired by the Suffolk countryside, Ellie tries to re-create one of his most famous paintings - but how will a group of 10-year-olds measure up against the master?
Tom Heap investigates whether there is a lack of enthusiasm when it comes to plants and getting green-fingered.
Adam Henson is joined on his farm by pop superstar JB from boy-band JLS. JB has bought a plot of land which he is keen to farm, so seeks advice from Countryfile's resident farmer.
Adam and the pop star
This week Adam Henson offers some farming advice to JB - Jonathan Benjamin Gill – from the pop group JLS. The 26-year-old singer has decided to farm some animals on his ten acre smallholding in Kent. Adam gets an exclusive look around and offers to help JB realise his dream. To find out if he really has what it takes to become a farmer, Adam invites him to his own farm on a snowy Cotswolds morning. Helping out in the lambing shed and in the field with the highland cattle and pigs, JB discovers the realities of farming. JB has big plans to farm deer, so Adam arranges for him to visit a local venison farm.
Ellie explores the birthplace of one of Britain’s most famous artists, Thomas Gainsborough. He is regarded as the first important British artist to consistently paint landscape, despite the fact that during his career, in the eighteenth century, landscape painting was considered a lowly branch of art. Gainsborough lived at a house in the town of Sudbury in Suffolk until he was thirteen. At his former home, Ellie talks to art curator Emma Roodhouse about Gainborough’s love of the Suffolk landscape. She also helps to recreate one of his most famous Suffolk paintings – ‘Mr and Mrs Andrews’.
Matt and Nancy
Matt Baker is in Suffolk to following the trail of Arthur Ransome and his book, ‘We didn’t mean to go to sea’. The seventh book in Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series of children's literature, it was published in 1937, following Ransome’s move to Suffolk from the Lake District. At the heart of the novel is a boat called ‘Goblin’, a small sailing cutter used by the children on their adventures. Matt discovers that this was based on Ransome’s own boat ‘Nancy Blackett’, now beautifully restored right down to its distinctive red sails. He’s lucky enough to join the crew for their first voyage of 2013.
IMAGE: Courtesy of Bryan Bonser
Ellie and the boxing hares
Ellie Harrison visits one of the RSPB’s earliest sites – Havergate island. The only island in Suffolk, this saltwater marshland is home to avocets and gulls as well as a thriving population of hares. Ellie finds out how the avocet came to become the symbol of the RSPB. She also tries to catch a glimpse of the island’s boxing hares. During March/April hares stand on their back legs and 'box' each other with their front feet. Ellie discovers that these animals are remarkably relaxed about humans, allowing her – and the camera crew – to get a wonderful view of the hares. But will they be boxing or just taking it easy?
Horticulture in crisis
From plant scientists and herb growers to greenkeepers and gardeners, the horticultural industry covers a huge range of professions. But, according to the Royal Horticultural Society, the industry is in crisis because of a shortage of skilled workers. A big part of the problem is a lack of interest from young people and so Tom Heap heads into school to see if he can inspire some horticulturalists of the future. Tom also discovers this skills shortage has led lack of plant pathologists, leaving the UK vulnerable to pests and disease from abroad.
|Series Producer||Teresa Bogan|
|Series Producer||Teresa Bogan|