Countryfile – At the Seaside: Sean Fletcher visits Whitby. Isolated between the North York Moors National Park and the sombre North Sea, it’s not a place you stumble upon; it’s a destination. This North Yorkshire seaside town has been attracting people with its architectural, geological and literary charms for generations.
This May marks the 125th year since the publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a novel that was influenced by Whitby’s folkloric past and continues to shape this maritime outpost. To celebrate the occasion, Sean is in town visiting the people of Whitby who work and protect its coastline today, providing a springboard for a deep dive into our archives of coastal Britain.
Stories are shared of the people, places and issues at the heart of the British countryside. Popular features include the programme’s photography contest, which culminates in a yearly calendar sold to benefit charity, the Video Diary, produced by viewers and focused on life in rural areas, and the weather forecasts.
Countryfile is a British television programme which airs weekly on BBC One and reports on rural, agricultural, and environmental issues in the United Kingdom. The programme is currently presented by John Craven, Adam Henson, Matt Baker, Tom Heap, Ellie Harrison, Paul Martin, Anita Rani, Helen Skelton, Steve Brown, Charlotte Smith, and Sean Fletcher.
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. BBC News’s Rural Affairs Correspondent Tom Heap or John Craven 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 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.