A look ahead to Countryfile Live at Castle Howard
PUBLISHED: 00:00 19 July 2019
©2019 Charlotte Graham- CAG Photography
Following a splash in Castle Howard’s iconic fountain, John Craven, Anita Rani and the team share their excitement about the north’s first Countryfile Live
It is beyond doubt that Countryfile Live, which hosts its northern debut in God's own county from August 15 to 18, is going to be one of the summer's best days out. Fans of the programme will be delighted to discover that not only is the beloved show bringing its four day event to Yorkshire, but to the grounds of the magnificent Castle Howard.
Better still will be the presence of several other national treasures - John Craven, who is celebrating his 30th year at Countryfile, Strictly Come Dancing semi-finalist, Anita Rani and Leeds' Brian Turner - along with the rest of the stars of the hit BBC TV show.
'We've had a fantastic time at Blenheim Palace over the last three years but were conscious that we needed to move north, so the opportunity to come to Castle Howard is a fabulous and important one and we hope that people will take the opportunity to come and meet us,' says John.
Those seeking to meet the longest serving presenter should head for the aptly named Craven Arms, where for the first time John will be hosting a daily pub quiz, to which everyone is invited.
Keeping things even fresher in this area will be the addition of a BBC Music Introducing stage, showcasing some the UK's best new artists and bands.
For those in search of a quieter idyll, the Village Green in the heart of the showground near the iconic Atlas Fountain, will host a gentler itinerary of events, including brass bands, maypole and Morris Dancing. 'The whole area is just so quintessentially British,' says Anita, 'with ice creams, deck chairs and croquet. I love spending time there reading stories to the children.'
Little ones who miss out on Anita will be consoled by the news that Pudsey Bear will also be in residence.
Long standing Countryfile presenters and self-confessed Castle Howard newbies, Ellie Harrison and Tom Heap, are crediting the stunning setting as the inspiration behind several special features. 'It is absolutely spectacular here and the lake is beautiful, which is why we've incorporated it into lots of events, including kayaking, canoeing, family fishing and boat rides,' says Ellie.
'Jessops Photography will be set up down by the lake offering photography workshops and experiences - which is a great idea as it chimes well with the programme as a visual medium,' adds Tom.
A new main stage highlight bringing everyone together in one place for the first time will be the behind-the-scenes Q&A, featuring the presenters interviewing one another along with the show's producers and favourite guests.
'I'm really looking forward to that,' says Ellie, 'as we aren't often together on TV so it's going to be a rare treat.'
The Food Market showcasing tastes of the north from the county's best artisan producers and the Le Creuset Kitchen Theatre headed up by Yorkshire Life's own Food and Drink Ambassador, Brian Turner, promises to be the most definitively northern brace of attractions, thanks to a glittering (trust me - they are!) roll call of Michelin starred Yorkshire chefs.
'We'll have ten demonstrations each day interchanging between superstar chefs and lesser known local chefs. They'll all be using local produce and making repeatable dishes you can cook at home along with some truly inspirational fare,' confirms Brian.
Knowing the best route to Yorkshire folks' hearts, Brian also adds that the area will be 'giving away free bacon, egg and sausage butties to all visitors who rock up before 8am, so if you want to get a good place and a good breakfast - get here early!'
Like the TV programme, Countryfile Live will be reflecting some of the more difficult conversations taking place across rural Britain today.
'I'm tasked with researching some of the issues and commissioning some of the speakers for the National Trust and Rural Business Theatres,' explains Tom, the show's rural affairs expert. 'Discussing more natural ways of managing flooding might be one of topics we look at, which is an important concern in the region.
'If people can have a broader and more fulsome encounter with the countryside whilst they're here, learning about farming, food and conservation issues, then the event offers not only a tremendous day out but a chance to reconnect with rural life.' Re-connect being the key phrase, since the whole team are keen to emphasise that we are all only a few generations on from being truly connected to the land.
Countryfile Live is about bringing all aspects of the flagship programme to life - a modern show for a modern audience, with just the right combination of fun, personality and seriousness.
And, with an army of vintage tractors and more than 500 animals to enjoy, it should be a ratings winner
What to look out for at Countryfile Live
Get up-close and personal with your favourite presenters at:
The Main Stage: Take a seat on a comfy hay bale to watch Countryfile heroes, Anita, Matt, Ellie, John, Adam, Tom and Charlotte taking to the stage to recall stories and share fascinating facts about one of the BBC's best-loved TV series.
The Craven Arms: John Craven himself will be hosting the pub quiz each day and everyone is invited to take part!.
The Wildlife Zone: Ellie Harrison will be popping in to help you learn more about caring for some of our native British species.
The Village Green: Anita Rani and Pudsey Bear will be on walk about at the Village Green - the perfect place to relax with a picnic and enjoy some traditional country entertainment.
The Le Creuset Kitchen Theatre: Join Brian Turner and his celebrity chef friends for a mouth-watering display of tasty summer meals and treats.