Countryfile presenters Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury talk about their very special guest editor for the show’s 25th anniversary (BBC1, Sunday), Prince Charles, and an expected bit of business that resulted from their meeting…
Was it a big surprise when you found out Prince Charles would be guest editing the 25th anniversary show?
Matt: “Yes, absolutely. There were rumours that something pretty special might be going on and then we heard that Prince Charles was going to be filming with us. He’s got a good, firm farmer’s handshake, and what a lovely man he is!”
Julia: “It’s a real honour and Prince Charles is very passionate about countryside issues, so it’s very fitting for him to be involved.”
Matt: “He follows a lot of stories that are close to his heart. It’s a typical Countryfile episode, with lots of different individual films.”
So, what filming did you each do with the Prince?
Julia: “I interview the Prince.”
Matt: “Well, to start with I visited a healthy eating project he’s connected to at Carshalton Boys Sports College in south London. The idea is that if you have good food in your stomach you can concentrate much better and since the project started their exam pass marks have shot up. They keep chickens and have an allotment on site.”
What else did you get up to with the Prince?
Matt: “I did some hedge laying with the Prince at his organic farm in Gloucestershire. Camilla, HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, was also there because she was judging how well everyone was doing with their hedges. Like Charles, she’s an incredible fan of the show. She brought along one of the two dogs she’s adopted from Battersea Dogs Home and it was a lovely little Jack Russell. We didn’t stand on ceremony and the whole atmosphere was incredibly relaxed, it really took me by surprise. We were all just sitting around on straw bales chatting away and drinking hot soup.”
What did you talk about?
Matt: “My family has an organic farm in Durham, so we have a very similar ethos of farming and I chatted to him about all sorts of stuff. I’m actually going to buy some sheep from him!”
Julia: “I didn’t know that! I’m sure Matt’s got a good deal.”
Matt: “We haven’t settled on a price yet. Now we’ve got to know each other, hopefully we can sort out a nice deal!”
Julia: “I bet the negotiations will be fun, because I’m sure the Prince is a very good businessman and Matt always likes a bargain.”
So Matt are you still closely involved with the farm?
Matt: “Well yes, it’s a family farm and I always get back for the bigger jobs like shearing and I also help out a little bit with lambing. I’m going back this weekend. I have a young family and it’s important for me to get them up to the farm so they can experience a similar upbringing to mine.”
Spring is finally coming – is it your favourite time of year?
Julia: “Yes, I absolutely adore spring because I find the harsh winter months incredibly hard, which must be because of my Greek background. There’s an inner me which was built for sunshine!”
Matt: “Yes, it’s such a wonderful time of year and it’s nice having more daylight. I love the freshness of spring and seeing all the new life. We’ve got a lot of ancient woodland on the farm so you can suddenly see the colours changing and you start hearing birds singing.”
Why do you think Countryfile is so popular?
Matt: “It’s become a bit of a phenomenon since it’s moved to its Sunday evening primetime slot. I think for those living in the cities it’s their window into the countryside.”
Julia: “I think the show has lasted for 25 years because it deals with issues that are relevant to the whole country. I get letters from people of all ages who’re fans. A lot of celebrities have told me it’s their guilty pleasure on a Sunday night. What’s guilty about it?! You should be proud to be a fan!”