April 15, 2024

Trailer firm helps TV presenter Matt Baker in new “life-changing” Channel 4 series 

A North Wales trailer maker has teamed up with TV presenter Matt Baker in a mission to give an aspiring farmer a “life-changing” opportunity.

In his new Channel 4 series, Our Dream Farm with Matt Baker, the Countryfile and former The One Show presenter follows the journey of seven prospective farming tenants as they try to secure a 10-year tenancy with the National Trust.

Over the course of eight, hour-long, episodes viewers will see the potential tenants being put through their paces in a series of rural tasks under the guidance of some of the country’s leading farming experts to help the National Trust select the applicant who will take on the tenancy.

Having enjoyed a long and trusted relationship with Ifor Williams Trailers over the years, Matt enlisted the Welsh firm to help transport sheep stock to a 340-acre vacant farm on the Wallington Estate in Northumberland so the prospective tenants can prove their credentials in practice.

Matt, who previously bought a livestock trailer from Ifor Williams after returning to the Durham hills where he grew up to help run his family farm, said: “For a long time I’ve wanted to tell the story of tenant farming in Britain and how it fits in with our agricultural processes.

“I think a lot of the general public are unaware of the concept of tenant farming and how it works and so I’ve been passionate about this for a long time. With the help of the Tenant Farmers Association I floated the idea with the National Trust who obviously have a lot of tenant farmers and a lot of property and land, they really liked the idea, and we pitched it to Channel 4.

“We’re basically following the selection process of the National Trust as they choose their newest farm tenant.

We supersized the process of what potential tenants would normally have been doing – which is usually more of a form filling exercise – and made it into a TV series.”

The series examines every skill area the National Trust would require from a new tenant, from stock handling and land management through to wildlife and general conservation.

Matt said: “It’s like a practical job interview. Because it’s on the actual farm they’re looking to take on, the National Trust got to see the hopefuls on that very farm to see what they would do, to see their ideas brought to life.

“With every single task, and every single ‘theme’ they are going through, we brought in experts from that world so they would all leave with the best possible chance of acquiring a future tenancy, because for me, it was very important that those who were unsuccessful learnt from the process. “All the applicants were all rural experts in some way, shape or form. Nobody was entering into it that didn’t have rural expertise. And every one of them could have been the potential tenant of the farm. In my eyes the selection process was really key in finding that tenant.”

The would-be tenants spent three weeks on the farm, living in the farmhouse and getting stuck into the work required, including lambing through the night.

Viewers will see  sheep being transported to the mixed grassland farm via an Ifor Williams livestock trailer. In another episode, the action focuses on a local livestock mart where the trailer is called into action again.

Matt said: “For me, Ifor Williams Trailers is such a part of the rural community that I was delighted we had the authenticity of a good  livestock trailer. They’re so reliable, so useful. They have the highest level of craftsmanship. With the design features, they’re just so dependable, reliable and they’re fantastic to tow and easy to reverse, very important when you’re on camera!”

“At the end of each episode two tenants are taken for an in-depth, full-on business meeting with the National Trust where they get to discuss at length their visions.

“I’m really proud of it to be honest and I think viewers are going to be fascinated by it,” said Matt.

“At the end of the day, this is a life-changing opportunity – it’s a 10-year tenancy. It’s not like they’re winning a trophy, they’re actually changing their lives.

“The opportunity they have is to acquire their own dream farm. And what they are acquiring let me tell you is a dream farm, it’s absolutely beautiful.”

Previously, Matt used a trusty Ifor Williams Trailers 10×7 TA5 livestock trailer to move sheep around the country as he sourced different breeds of sheep for his parents’ farm in the Durham Dales.

The journey was documented in his series,  Our Farm in the Dales, which followed Matt’s family’s progress as they made vital changes to secure its future for coming generations after his mum, Janice, was injured.

Ifor Williams also stepped in to help Matt tow his rickshaw around the UK in 2021 when he completed his famous charity Rickshaw challenge in aid of BBC Children in Need. They donated a bespoke flatbed trailer to transport the McLaren-made rickshaw from place to place during Matt’s fundraising venture.

Ifor Williams Trailers show manager Dafydd Jones said: “We’ve known Matt and his family a few years now and are always happy to help out when we can.

“We’re proud to be a part of rural life here in Britain and beyond and feel very privileged to play a small role in sharing what makes the countryside special in Matt’s TV projects. We’re really looking forward to seeing the series when it screens.”

Our Dream Farm with Matt Baker is the latest series to emerge from Matt’s production company, Big Circus Media. Other shows include Matt Baker: Travels with Mum & Dad and behind-the-scenes documentaries ‘Waitrose at Christmas’, ‘Hotel Chocolat: Inside the Chocolate Factory’ and BBC1’s ‘My Life At Christmas’.

Matt said: “Rural television is really important to me. I have grown  up in that world, and presented Countryfile for years. The majority of the programmes we’ve done with our production company have been about Britain and the British landscape.

“Tenant farming, was something I really wanted to highlight in a way that will hopefully encourage TV audiences to connect with and for them to see the reality of the ups and downs that go with it.

The eight-part series is being shown on Channel 4 on Saturday nights and Matt is now also looking for aspiring farmers to take over the tenancy of the vacant Llyndy Isaf Farm, a National Trust farm in Eryri (Snowdonia) which will be featured in a second series of Our Dream Farm. Applications close at midnight on Sunday, April 14. For more information go to:  https://farmapplication.co.uk/