Executive producer(s) William Lyons
Production company(s) BBC Studios
Theme song Countryfile Theme Song
Opening theme David Lowe
Running time 60 minutes
First episode date 24 July 1988
Genre News magazine
|Original release 24 July 1988 (1988-07-24) – present|
Presented by Matt Baker, John Craven, Adam Henson, Ellie Harrison, Tom Heap, Anita Rani, Helen Skelton
Similar One Man and His Dog, Landward, The One Show, Watchdog, The Really Wild Show
Countryfile a royal appointment
- Countryfile a royal appointment
- Photographic competition
- Spin off programmes
- Ageism case
- Main presenters
- Reporters relief presenters and co presenters
- Former presenters
- International broadcast
The show was first broadcast on 24 July 1988. While farming remained a core ingredient, Countryfile held a much broader brief – to investigate rural issues and celebrate the beauty and diversity of the British countryside.
Anne Brown fronted Countryfile for its first year under its original producer Mike Fitzgerald.
Broadcaster John Craven started fronting the Sunday morning programme in 1989. The programme was originally 30 minutes in length, now each episode lasts for 60 minutes.
In April 2009, Countryfile moved to an early Sunday evening slot, with Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury joining John Craven as co-presenters. Tom Heap and Ellie Harrison also joined in 2009. In 2014, Helen Skelton became a presenter and in 2015, Anita Rani joined the programme.
The programme currently airs 52 weeks of the year and includes a five-day weather forecast live from the BBC's weather studio in London.
Countryfile was originally produced by BBC Birmingham, moving to its new home of BBC Bristol in 2012.
Episodes are typically centred on two lead presenters visiting a place or region, and uncovering the stories, characters and traditions which make that area distinctive. Typical subject matter includes wildlife, conservation, farming and food production, the arts, countryside crafts, social history and leisure activities. Presenters and guests are often wearing British country clothing, episodes may include several segments with other presenters, uncovering other stories in the region. Compilation programmes occasionally air with a thematic focus, with a reduced number of original segments typically featuring one lead presenter only, and several other segments repeated from previous shows.
Journalism remains an integral part of the programme's agenda. Tom Heap presents a weekly investigation into the big issues affecting the British countryside. Recent examples include the impact of animal diseases, the move towards renewable energy, environmental disasters, threats to rural services as well as changes to farming policy and practices.
Farmer Adam Henson joined the programme in 2001 following a search to find a new presenter amongst programme viewers. In 2009 he started fronting the weekly "Adam's Farm" strand which gives viewers an insight into the challenges of running a mixed farm in the Cotswolds. His father, Joe Henson, was one of the original founders of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
In 2013 the programme marked its 25th anniversary with a special edition guest-edited by HRH The Prince of Wales. Countryfile: A Royal Appointment saw the team joining the Prince on his Gloucestershire farm where he shared his passion for the British countryside, rare breed animals, organic farming and hedge-laying. Countryfile also accompanied him on a trip to County Durham to find out what’s being done to help struggling hill farmers before heading to a London comprehensive where pupils are growing and cooking their own food with remarkable results. The Silver Jubilee celebrations continued well into July when 250 viewers were invited to a traditional summer fayre held on Adam Henson's farm. The anniversary was marked by a new title sequence and re-versioned music composed by David Lowe.
October 2013 also saw the programme uniting with another BBC institution. Ireland went on to win Countryfile's One Man and His Dog, which was broadcast on 27 October.
The BBC's Countryfile magazine was launched in 2007 and is now published by Immediate Media Co. The current editor is Fergus Collins.
The Countryfile Photographic Competition remains a highlight of the programme's year. Viewers are invited to submit entries and the best make up a wall calendar sold in aid of Children in Need. The 2015 calendar raised over £1.5 million for the charity.
Spin-off programmes have included Countryfile: The Summer Diaries, Country Tracks and Secret Britain.
In December 2015, it was announced that the BBC had commissioned a daytime Countryfile spin-off programme, called Countryfile Diaries which began airing in March 2016. This spin-off series is presented by John Craven, Paul Martin, Jules Hudson and Keeley Donovan.
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. It followed the decision to move the programme to a prime-time slot with a refreshed presenting team. 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.
On 11 January 2011, the employment tribunal found in favour of O'Reilly's claims on the grounds of ageism and victimisation, but not sexism. The BBC accepted the tribunal's findings after what O'Reilly described as "an incredibly stressful 14 months." The Daily Mail reported that O'Reilly would receive compensation of up to £250,000.
Reporters, relief presenters and co-presenters
Countryfile started airing on BBC Knowledge New Zealand in early 2016.