Last night farmers around the UK tuned into BBC4 at 9pm for a very special showing of award winning feature length documentary, Addicted to Sheep.
The brutally honest illustration of the high and lows of an uphill tenant farm was perfectly depicted in the one-hour television adaption of the film recreated by director, Migali Pettier.
Set in the North Pennines, the programme followed the Hutchinson family throughout the shepherds’ year, in their bid to produce the perfect Swaledale fighting up against poor weather conditions, difficult births and volatile prices.
The moving and heart-warming film highlighted the importance of community, family, and a bit of sunshine, but not without proof of the harsh realities of live and deadstock.
With Tom and Kay Hutchinsons’ three children taking centre stage, this documentary captured a rare breed of farmers rearing sheep in low input systems to preserve some of the UKs most spectacular landscapes, a far cry from modern farming practices seen in the South East.
It was a reminder of times gone by and of the important role that farming still plays in the social fabric of upland communities and their economy.
The Hutchinsons agreed to be filmed in a bid to make people aware of the hard work and challenges that go into producing good quality food: “The film highlighted hill farming and made people realise the hard and constant work that hill farming entails. It’s a way of life, not just work.
“We are not rich financially but rich in so many other ways.”
Director, Magali Pettier, who has gone on to win awards for Addicted to Sheep, created the film because she wanted people to have more respect for farmers and see the challenges that they go through on a daily basis for such little financial reward. She said: “I was tired of hearing people assume that farmers are wealthy or grumpy. That is true some are but a lot aren’t and especially not tenant hill farmers, so I set out to challenge those clichés.”
And challenge them she did as Twitter exploded with praise for the filmmaker and family, commending their efforts for highlighting the plight of farmers and the hard work that is put into producing their food.
Addicted to sheep is showing again at 11pm on BBC4 and will be available on BBC Iplayer for a limited period. It is also available to buy on DVD. See more at: www.addictedtosheep.com