Amanda Owen’s Farming Lives, review: A missed opportunity to celebrate women farmers

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The nickname “the Kardashians of the countryside” turned out to be a curse. The Dales duo of Clive and Amanda Owen rose to fame on Our Yorkshire Farm, but their 22-year marriage fell victim. Like a muddy remix of the reality soap, the two have gone their separate ways.

The Yorkshire shepherdess has started her post-divorce film career with Farm life of Amanda Owen (More4). In this six-part series, the telegenic former model and mother of nine travels across the UK to immerse herself in a series of farms and learn what makes them tick.

Her first port of call was Shetland – the northernmost tip of the United Kingdom, closer to the Arctic Circle than London – where sisters Kirsty and Aimee Budge had taken over their family farm after their father’s death in a tractor accident. Their family has been working this land for 150 years and has become almost self-sufficient. Against all odds, these resilient young women were now leading the company into the future. Owen became caught up in everyday farm life when she learned how the sisters made a living in such an isolated environment. Despite attempts to describe their story as inspiring and moving, the no-nonsense sisters were having none of it. When Mother Helen got emotional over lunch, Aimee told her, “That’s enough. Eat your cheesecake.

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“Farmer visits other farms” is not the most convincing premise for a series. There were glimpses of a more interesting show here, aimed at women farmers. The sisters explained that traditionally women were at the forefront of crofting in Shetland. Owen himself ventured: “Women are better at handling cattle. I’m sorry, but it’s true.”

But this theme is not developed. Owen isn’t the most natural TV presenter either. She displayed shy body language and often averted her eyes from the camera. Mumbling narration added to her coy presence on screen, while those jingling bracelets must have driven the sound department to distraction. Attempting to reel her family in by making a video call home was perfunctory.

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Overflowing from Channel 5, where Our Yorkshire Farm became the broadcaster’s biggest factual hit, Owen’s solo debut is tucked away on More4. I couldn’t help wondering if this series had been stronger, maybe it had aired on terrestrial Channel 4. Instead it’s fun but boring with a disappointing daytime feel.

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