"All together now." So sang band The Farm at the height of the early nineties. Taking this on board, Five has seen fit to bring nine celebrities all together now to run a farm all together. Now. For three weeks.
As is de rigeur for celebrity reality shows, it's a popularity contest hiding under the conceit of a situation, this one in particular being the situation of running a farm. The least popular celebs are booted out on regular"Farmegeddon" nights until we're left with just one celeb remaining, the 'Top Farmer'. One celeb is voted 'Farm Manager' by the last outgoing celeb, they get certain privelidges and rewards (not least immunity from the vote).
Obviously just letting some celebrities run a farm would be ridiculous. Working the machinery would be dangerous. The animals would face maltreatment. So to point the farmhands in the right direction (i.e. tell them what to do) is housewives' favourite Ryan Hooper, a proper actual real farmer. We'd like to break at this point for a quote from Five executive Ben Frow (nicked from Mediaguardian): "He's the big success of the show, he gets an awful lot of fan mail. He's gorgeous, so smouldery, sexy farmer Ryan. I was given a selection of farmers and he was chosen for looks. I don't want to watch a horrible, old, bearded farmer, we're Five, after all. I wanted the farmer to be young, funny, vibrant, sexy, warm, all those things." Thanks Ben. Also there's a resident vet in the form of Jon Huxley.
Our celebs are expected to take on tasks that you would expect farmhands to take on on a proper working farm. The cows need to be milked. The pigs need to be mucked out. The sheep need to be round up and sheared. The eggs have got to be collected. The pigs need to be masturbated for artificial insemination purposes. The ducks have got to be killed.
Well, our farmhands don't actually need to do the last one, others will kill for them to make sure it's done in the most humane way. This is because whilst the farmers are given a certain amount of food, when it runs out they have to replace it from the natural resources avaliable which invariably means chickens and duck. However whilst experts will do the killing our celebs will have to pluck them and gut them - there are no free rides on this farm. There are also very early mornings.
There is also plenty of arguing. Some of which is political (and Vanilla Ice is usually involved somewhere). Some of which is based entirely on the differing amounts of work people are seen (or not, as the case may be to be doing).
We didn't think this would be up to much on first glance. Endemol at least has a track record of quite good reality programming so we were pleasantly surprised by the first few episodes. It reached a peak by the end of the first week when - awwww! - the pregnant cow gave birth to a cute liddle calf. Since then we've got a bit bored of it really.
Whilst the show's aims (shyeah, right) of showing how hard it is to work in a farm and the issues that surround farming today are laudable it just isn't enough to hold attention over three weeks. Even Endemol Controversy (TM) has made us just sort of shrug our shoulders a bit.
Still, it's been a reasonable sized hit for Five (rating about double Back to Reality was getting, although for us BTR was the more interesting show) and it looks like it's going to be returning for a second series.