tue 17/05/2022

Love in the Countryside, BBC Two review - reaping a harvest of marital bliss? | reviews, news & interviews

Love in the Countryside, BBC Two review - reaping a harvest of marital bliss?

Love in the Countryside, BBC Two review - reaping a harvest of marital bliss?

Sara Cox's dating game for rural singletons is more fun than it ought to be

Farmer's market: Sara Cox plays matchmaker to the agricultural community

If you’re a farmer who works round the clock to feed sheep, milk cows and so forth, how on earth do you make time to find a partner and reap a harvest of marital bliss?

Well you could ask Sara Cox if you can join in her dating game for “lonely rural romantics”, back for its second series on BBC Two, but success cannot be guaranteed.

Still, Cox, who grew up on a Lancashire beef farm, makes a cheery and plain-speaking host as she drags together suitors and suit-ees. This week’s contestants were Grace (23), who’s about to take over running the family farm in the Welsh borders when her father retires. Then there was 44-year-old Martin (pictured below), who tends 170 cows and 300 sheep in Yorkshire, but yearns for non-bovine companionship. “The cows are great but you can’t take ‘em to Nando’s,” he pointed out. Chubby, balding Martin admits he’s “not Brad Pitt”, but by the end of the show love was in the air.

The show’s format is, to say the least, formulaic. The candidates put their dating profiles online, then applicants who respond affirmatively are whittled down to a final six. Then the candidates zoom down to London for a dating event for which the term “cattle market” could hardly be more apt. Here, the “sexy six” are reduced to three, who will be invited to spend a weekend – together, rather than separately, which you’d think might be a bit style-cramping – with their prospective date-mate.

Yet the process seemed to function effectively enough. Grace’s problem was that while all the blokes fancied her and she picked a trio of male-model-type hunks to test drive on her farm, she’s disastrously trapped in her father’s shadow. The only criterion that mattered to her was whether dad would approve of them getting their paws on his farm as well as his daughter (he “joked” that he keeps a shotgun under his bed). Trouble ahead! She didn’t do herself any favours by shoving all three lads into one cramped spare bedroom and issuing them with monogrammed overalls in which they could go and milk the cows in the (very early) morning.

By contrast, Martin put on a winning display of unaffected bonhomie. He was slightly embarrassed by the decrepit state of his farmhouse, but wisely put up his guests in a smart cottage borrowed from a neighbour and got the social ball rolling by hosting a barbecue in the garden. He effortlessly charmed the ladies, and he and schoolteacher Laura Lee seem made for each other. This was more fun than you might have expected.


The cows are great but you can’t take ‘em to Nando’s


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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