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Here Hair Here: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall And River Cottage
Tom Howells , August 9th, 2021 07:59

In this month's subscriber only Low Culture essay, Tom Howells reappraises the first three series of River Cottage and finds a Dorset of esoteric rites, ecstatic natural beauty, eldritch haunting, racist gentry and brutal rural pathos, plus a little bit of food

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at River Cottage

It was the optics that did it: beady, concupiscent eyes staring me down from above the bed of a friend I was benignly trying, unsuccessfully, to get off with. She loved Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall tremulously, hence the Observer spread opener stuck above the headboard. I’d never seen the man, but there he was: tousled, green jumpered, needling my lack of initiative while holding what I think was a bull’s heart, viscera and blood dribbling between his fingers. The intersection of sex, death and earthy food? This was early-aughts Hugh in a paper nutshell and I was sold.

HFW, chef-turned-writer-turned-outré-food-broadcaster, was then the main protagonist in River Cottage. A kind of IRL Good Life, the initial three series of which ran on Channel 4 from 1999 ‘til 2001, it saw a youthful Hugh reject urban life to become a Dorset smallholder, living off the land and immersing himself in a community of hirsute poultry fanciers, bigoted gentry, convivial cider circles, allotment bikers and reticent lamping enthusiasts. It was fantastically engaging viewing.

While my friend’s interest in River Cottage was sexual – Hugh was possessed of an almost cosmic shagger energy – mine was more holistic, tied to my surroundings like a fish wrapped in gill net. The verdant and wild southwest corner of the Isle of Wight where I grew up was a hardwired topography; in which I drifted between woodland, megaliths, holloways and tumbledown smuggler’s coastline – once part of the same Jurassic shore as Hugh’s bit of Dorset – all the while feeling steamrolled at how beatific the reaches of one’s back garden could be.

It was ecstatic stuff for a teenager, but superficial. Blissfully unaware of the foibles of the working countryside, even in confected narrative River Cottage revealed it in multitudes. Watching the series delivered an education into living traditions – pastoral, weird, banal – that I’d idly missed discovering on my doorstep. (As well, it would transpire, as informing my nascent interests in folk music, folk horror, nature literature and food systems.) It was both romantic and beautifully unkempt: they were “all out the back, drinking cider, discussing butter”, but flecked in mud and oomska while they were at it.

It was clear then that River Cottage wasn’t simply airy lifestyle drivel. But the intervening years of re-watching in cyclical perpetuity have revealed a much stranger document. Those first series – Escape To River Cottage, Return To River Cottage and River Cottage Forever – comprise a truly underrated piece of gonzo weirdness, a crackers slice of pastoral literature writ corporeal in the guise of a benign cookery programme. A melding of John Seymour’s The Fat Of The Land and The Wicker Man, with Hugh’s Dorset – the holloways, dells and coastline around Netherbury, Bridport and Lyme Regis – rendered as a world of esoteric rites, ecstatic beauty and grubby pathos. A pre-Brexit vision of distant Albion, in which Hugh goes irreversibly native.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was born in 1965. His father Robert, an ad man, was the progeny of landed gentry; his mother Jane a well-known garden designer, writer and one-time secretary of The Who’s fanclub. His first taste of downshifting came at the age of six, when his parents moved from London to Gloucestershire, where, he said in his 2009 Desert Island Discs, he lived a bucolic existence “camping in the woods, racing snails and collecting birds’ eggs”.

After prep school, Eton. An aspiring punk, he blames the attempts to spike his then very straight hair with creating his now trademark mop. He became a 2-tone guy instead, for which Jane knitted him an elaborate mohair 2-tone jumper. After Oxford, he took to wildlife conservation, travelling to Africa but returning home eight months later, out of cash but filled with a passion for ecosystems. He found a job as a sous chef at the River Café, but was fired for being messy and inefficient. Food-writing stints for Punch, The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Independent followed, before he segued into broadcast with the barmy A Cook On The Wild Side and TV Dinners, in which he cooked and ate a human placenta at an alternative christening and was subsequently accused of cannibalism by a Labour MP.

Despite his bohemian childhood, he never had a conscious intention to return wholesale to the country. That was, until he found River Cottage: a former game-keeper’s pile in the grounds of Slape Manor in Netherbury, West Dorset, which he rented as a weekend home and writer’s retreat. Eventually, he told Kirsty Wark on ‘Discs, “I wondered if I could just not go back after the weekend.” Channel 4 picked up the tab; Kirsty cues 'Ode To Joy'.

A still from River Cottage

We’re given none of this in River Cottage. Series one, episode one begins with no preamble. Tranquil, disassociated shots of the Dorset countryside cut to Hugh snoozing in a hammock. “Like many city dwellers, it’s long been my dream to escape the urban sprawl, find a little place in the country and live off the fat of the land,” he says languidly. “I’ve found River Cottage – the perfect place to put my fantasy to the test.” (The second episode opens by stating “I am a Dorset downsizer” – his purview already irrevocably shifted.)

Over three series, Hugh wrestles not only physically with his land and animals, but with the philosophical quandary of whether he should remain ‘forever’ (to his credit, he actually did relocate full-time for series three, and stayed). His holding grows from a kitchen garden and pig pen to a feudal kingdom of several acres, on which he raises sheep, beef steer, cows, chickens and more pigs. He is assisted by a cast of recurring characters – mystic ‘gurus’ who drop in and out of Hugh’s little valley, imparting recherché rural wisdom and muck-splattered practical know-how. They’re all effervescent, but personal favourites include:

Richard Hicks, an elaborately moustached behemoth who provides invaluable intel on both poultry auction tactics and ancient breeds; Victor Borge, old-school London restaurateur and Hugh’s cured meats tutor, a sort of Keith Floyd / Gianfranco Zola amalgam; Barbara Gunning, whipsmart jam expert and Hugh’s Beaminster Village Show matriarch; and, most gratifyingly, Michael Michaud, Hugh’s American polytunnel guru and chilli expert, with whom he shares a chaotic and sniping rivalry, largely based around who’s going to pocket more cash at Bridport Farmers' Market. (“I’m certified organic!” Michael crows within about ten seconds of meeting Hugh. “You can’t say that or you’ll break the law!” / “Oh god, it’s just awful,” he moans, eyeing Hugh's tomato blight problem as their first competitive trip to Bridport looms. “Get ready to lose!”)

Outlandish some may be, but River Cottage never presents as yokelism. A rather mean-spirited 2003 article in The Sunday Times saw Andrew Billens attempt to goad Hugh into declaring the “skittle playing, truffle hunting, spell incanting” locals as ‘weird’. “They’re certainly not weird,” Hugh responded indignantly.

As the smallholding grows, so too do Hugh’s free-market instincts and his desire to turn a profit on his spoils; whether grown in his polytunnel or, in the case of the umpteen rabbits he turns into bunny burgers, blasted in the face with a silenced .22 rifle. Hugh’s cottage industrial revolution – creating the River Cottage Glutton brand he hawks at various markets – eventually proves the death knell of the smallholding dream. By the fourth series – Beyond River Cottage – Hugh’s already jumped ship to a 40-acre farm on the Dorset/Devon borders. The primal conflict of the cottager’s life (“Can I create enough hay so that my cattle don’t starve?” and so on) has become one of bare-faced avarice (“Can I turn this barn into a restaurant and grift the punters for Valentine’s day?”). The soul had been sucked out of the thing.

The Author chewing the cud, courtesy of Miquel Gonzalez

Hugh’s going native is signposted along the way by a series of subtle markers: the replacing of his pretty but impractical Ford Corsair convertible for a rickety Landrover Defender; the increasingly dishevelled state of the beige jacket he wears throughout; a braided fishing-line bracelet; his ‘old-hand’ status in the second Beaminster Village Show in series three.

Most transitional is a commercial jaunt with Michaud to London, “where they say the streets are lined with gold.” They make for Borough – then a smaller and more artisanal market – and their arrival is met with shots of pissing mire over St Paul’s and Hogarthian images of arches strung with smoke and barrows. ”I thought I’d seen the last of the place, but I can almost smell the money,” says Hugh, before hawking fistfuls of Michael’s naga chillis and spicy poblano wraps. Making for the pub, his now firmly bucolic mindset means he’s forgotten about parking regs and the Defender is swiftly clamped, nobbling their profit. “It’d never happen back home,” Hugh adds, mentally extricated from this urban hell. Back to the West Country they flee.

The Sunday Times piece also touched on the quandary of making River Cottage in the first place. For all the time Hugh bangs on about the infinitesimal margins for error in his fragile feudal economy, he’s never at risk of fiscal catastrophe (just underwhelming telly). His attitude was bullish:

“I did think anyone who farmed seriously and was financially dependent on it would be irritated by the programme,” he told Billens. “You would have to ask them to be sure, but my feeling is that they have actually enjoyed it, even if they’ve been having a much rougher time with farming than I appeared to be. And I think they enjoyed it partly because it shows that there’s this slightly barmy community life in the country that you can tap into even if you are a stranger.”

It helps that River Cottage is incredibly well put together. First: benign topic, banging soundtrack. Laconic, open-tuned guitar and impressionistic piano are a yearning counterpoint to all the dew-dappled woodland and drizzle. But there’s stuff for the heads, too: from the tactile, Ecco the Dolphin ambient swirl that soundtracks some spear-fishing; to the throwback mechanical IDM grinding over Hugh’s haymaking; and glacial drones that wouldn’t sound out of place on Daniel Bachman’s latest. Most fittingly, a boozed trip to Bridport sees Hugh take on ‘Baba O’Riley’, at local fluoro-grind unit Bad Acid’s open-mic. “Out here in the field! / I farm for my meals! / I put my back into my living!” he shrieks, palpably giving it some.

Aesthetically, too, it’s lovely: the scene-setting serene in its stillness, and at times outwardly painterly. Distant shots of lumpen knolls, giant skies, verdant meadows flecked with bales, and Hugh’s woodsy dell heavily evoke the hazy reveries of Ravilious, Paul and John Nash, and Stanley Spencer, as well as contemporary artists beholden to late-summer like David Inshaw and Jo March. Likewise the cooking segments within the cottage, cannily decked out like Dutch still-lives with their chiaroscuro approach to light and dark (plus veg, animal parts and assorted agrestic ephemera strewn around). And despite its lo-fi late-90s style, the food still looks absolutely delicious, even at its most primal.

The Author's River Cottage collection

Take a poached pike, its toothy maw on decrepit view when wrenched from the bouillon. Leathery skin peeled away, the fillets are flaked and the wicked pin-bones removed. Some ASMR herb chopping and the fish is set in little moulds, a vision in aspic. The pike: “Ugly and vicious in life; beautiful and delicate in death,” Hugh states, poetically and correctly.

Relentlessly it continues, wave after wave of exotic takes on Dorset’s produce. Eel, caught in a Loire-style straw trap baited with roadkill, slathered in a sauce so verdantly herbaceous and lustrous I could almost taste it. The gorey alchemy of black pudding, Hugh sieving fresh, frothing blood for clots before dashing out a Spanish morcilla. Lamb baked in hay as a throwback to 19th century hunting parties. Cuttlefish, dissected in the bath and cooked into a sauce of its own “diabolical” black ink. Otherworldly puffballs stuffed with wild garlic and chicken of the woods. Sinus-ripping DIY horseradish cream. There was an outrageous and adventurous exoticism to Hugh’s food that feels as irresistible now as it did then. Highly affecting stuff for a 16 year old discovering the multitudinous edible appeal of the world around – and wanting to devour every last bit of it.

It’s a mistaken (but understandable) assumption that, given Hugh’s background and the ‘questing urbanite’ premise, he would fraternise largely with middle-class producers – or at least feature the working folk primarily as simple conduits for rural knowledge. There’s no evidence of this in River Cottage. Hugh’s friendships with the locals feel palpably warm; his Dorset rendered effectively classless. With the exception of a day eschewing a toff pheasant shoot to join the beaters, any stratified distinctions are thrown into light almost wholly by Hugh’s interactions with his landlords at Slape manor, Anthony and Serena Hitchens.

A sympathetic landlord in hooray-red trousers, Anthony is cataclysmically well to do, even compared to Hugh. On myriad occasions, Hugh plays dogsbody for his master. In one segment, he takes to the kitchens of Slape on a wager that he can make a carp caught in the manor’s lake palatable. (If he wins = fishing rights. A loss = dredge the pond.) To labour Poe, the Hitchens’ aristo mates (who assume it’ll taste of mud) gather in a crimson drawing room; a bastion of conservative taste in which they’re protecting themselves from the plague – as they would see it – of modernity. Hugh and his carp are the albeit uninvited guests that infect them. The gentry succumbs: ”I taste no mud!” The pond remains un-dredged.

Later, the Medieval fayre held in the grounds of Slape Manor brings an explicit interpretation of Hugh as serf, clad in a sort of wimple, hessian robes and working a pig spit, Anthony and Serena his lieges. Here, the former has literally become the lord of the land; everyone’s rightful positions finally consolidated. Watching Hugh take a soaking in a riverside tug-o-war, Anthony is appalled: “This is England,” he carps at his skivvy. “Not the Low Countries!”

The benign bigotry is more irksome. River Cottage’s early-00s Dorset is intensely monocultural, a fact only exacerbated by the fact Anthony is given to spewing veiled racial invective at almost every appearance. The first of many knock-downs is deployed at a pigeon cull. “My basis for selection,” he says, “is to shoot the ones that are mixed so as to keep as pure a white collection as we can.” Cue blasting them from their perches in a comedy cloud of feathers. He turns up for dinner with an ‘81 claret; Hugh presents a Moroccan pigeon pastilla pie. “We’re ethnic this evening are we?” says Anthony, cynically. An apex comes pre-fayre, while choosing one of Hugh’s pigs to roast. “If you’re going to pick one of the three,” Anthony observes, “surely it should be one of the two blacks?” Quite, and perhaps it wouldn’t be so pointed if there was at least one non-white character. But alack.

Almost as egregious – but more fun – is the libidinous energy that runs like a sticky lay line through the series. Hugh’s prurient vitality is restless in River Cottage. Sometimes it’s directed at the public – ”No cleavage, no extra crackling!” he flirts, madly, with a random punter at the summer fayre – and sometimes at his own gurus. In search of some brand identity for his River Cottage Glutton range, Hugh enlists artist Trish Whiley to knock out some designs. A dungaree-clad woman doing a sweet line in relief wood cuts, she’s tempted back to his lair with the promise of lobster, the fag-smoked-filled atmosphere of which is palpably post-coital. Worst of all is the felting session led by two local girls and “wool abuse fetishists”, Vicky and Christine, which descends into an aberrant non-diegetic commentary from Hugh: “We give it a pounding with our naked feet” / “The rhythmic rolling begins” / “Christine keeps changing positions” / “SAY WHEN!” On he goes, a priapic post-Raphaelite awash in a sea of euphemism.

The Author

From a narrative point of view, River Cottage rides on its moments of unique insight, propelling Hugh’s success as a smallholder while shedding light on some of the obscure callings of his new community. Without River Cottage, would I now know that hedgelaying is like “basket weaving on a grand scale”? That you can tell if a sheep is pregnant with the “rough shepherd’s method” of pummelling its flank to feel the lamb judder around? And that one can catch razor clams by pouring salt into their burrows and waiting for the foul protuberance to eject itself from the sand? Certainly not, and I feel richer for it now.

Some of the most recondite knowledge is reserved for Hugh’s two entries for the Beaminster Village Show – the apex of the competitive smallholder’s calendar, and a world of arm-long runner beans, meticulously laid out ‘top trays’ and cannonball-sized onions, all judged to arcane and unintelligible standards. These prove too abstruse even to Hugh, never quite mastering them enough to win the feted vegetable Challenge Cup (despite some excellent stunt-rooted carrots).

Not that he lacks initiative. Hugh’s own antic array of hacked-together contraptions provide River Cottage a little light Heath Robinson appeal, particularly in the self-refreshing “carp de-mudification” machine connected to the River Brit with pulleys and pipes, and – more sex – a cephalopod proxy, fashioned from a plastic bottle and some glitter. Into the depths off West Bay the cage trap goes. Up it comes again in a cloud of ink, the zebra-striped bounty tempted by Hugh’s synthetic flapper. Lessons in industry all.

As crypto-documentary, River Cottage endures because it squares both the violence and grind of agriculture with the halcyon idyll. Nowhere is this more acute than the final episode of season one, when Hugh’s spice pigs approach ‘finishing’. His desire to slaughter them at home scuppered by EU regs, he’s torn whether to accompany them to the abattoir. When the trailer arrives, the pen is snipped open and the pigs are tempted to their demise with a bucket of pignuts. Hugh is stoic, but bereft. “I was there at the beginning, and I should be there at the end,” he says, following behind.

For his first lambing, meanwhile, a video camera is set up in the birthing barn, a grainy viewfinder affording an ‘authentic’ window past the show’s ostensible reality. It’s pretty stiff stuff. The placenta plops out to Hugh’s visible distress. We get static shots of his ovine doula Jo Forsey gorily wrenching a lamb from the back end of a sheep and, as it becomes clear it’s breached and not breathing, the normally steadfast Hugh genuinely looks like he’s about to hit the deck. But hey, it’s not all so morose. Hugh’s giddy pursuit of the eel run ends hysterically, with an eel nailed by the head to a post and its skin wrenched off with a pair of pliers, grindhouse style. You never saw that on Two Fat Ladies.

The Author forest cooking

For all of that, a weirder macabre remains my favourite part of River Cottage. It’s impossible to read the show two decades after its debut without feeling the chill fingers of the folk horror explosion at its throat. Two formal ideas that render something ‘folk horror’, explains Adam Scovell in 2017’s definitive Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful And Things Strange, are “a work that uses folklore, either aesthetically or thematically, to imbue itself with a sense of the arcane for eerie, uncanny or horrific purposes” and “a work that presents a clash between such arcana and its presence within close proximity to some form of modernity, often within social parameters”.

Broad criteria, sure (“[Folk horror’s] light disperses into a spectrum of colours that range in shade and contrast,” explains Scovell) but there’s an inescapable clash of arcane and contemporary throughout River Cottage. A hokey mouse-removal seance (replete with smouldering sage and a huddle of crystals). Hugh’s traipsing a decaying wood to find a crab apple branch that he’ll burn, at the behest of a hedge witch, to celebrate the passing solar year. A sand sculpting competition in which Hugh massacres hundreds of mackerel to decorate himself as a sort of proto-Robert Eggers folk horror Neptune. And the climactic third series Halloween party which ends in a game of pumpkin fettling – human skittles played on tree stumps with a pumpkin on a rope.

“Anthropologists have traced this game’s roots back to ancient fertility rites,” Hugh intones. “Or infertility rites,” he adds, as a man dressed as a giant toadstool gets a pumpkin to the knackers. “When the full moon passes,” he closes, “we come together in a dance to the death.” It’s not exactly Robin Redbreast or the Summerisle procession – but then, it’s not a million miles away either.

River Cottage itself is also a natty stand-in for the ‘crumbling castle’ of the Gothic tradition. Hugh is plagued from the outset by the Lovecraftian squelch of ravenous slugs; eldritch waves of spindly, dead-eyed signal crayfish; and, especially, the photo-negative creep of a boar in night vision, haunting Hugh’s dreams as it tries to fuck his sows. The unsettled slumber of Hugh’s vigil has more than a tinge of MR James to it – particularly to 'Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come To You, My Lad' – with him as the antiquarian Parkins, feverishly haunted by an unknown and ageless interloper in his own head (but soon proving all too corporeal).

If that comparison is obtuse, a later example is overt. Scouting the competition for the Beaminster Village Show in series three, Hugh takes to the village church tower as a sneaky, binocular-bolstered vantage point. From the close up of a wind-blasted gargoyle, to the maudlin organ tootling in the background and the aerial shot of the churchyard, it’s pure Lawrence Gordon Clarke – a delicious easter egg of a reference to the director’s 1974 version of 'The Treasure Of Abbot Thomas', one of the BBC’s A Ghost Story For Christmas adaptations. “He looks down from on high to see what is hidden,” indeed. Even in the post-Mark Fisher, relentlessly hauntological age in which we live – so many cultural artefacts rejuvenated with a lick of the eerie or crypto-Gothic – RC is indubitably possessed of the wyrd’s pervading hum.

"Do you like chicken?" Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at River Cottage

Though ostensibly a cookery programme at its core, River Cottage isn’t really about eating. It’s about process, understanding, husbandry and the other small-scale economics espoused by both self-sufficiency godhead John Seymour and the radical social theorist EF Schumacher in his 1973 book Small Is Beautiful. It’s about artisanal expertise; in rejecting industries of scale. Hugh does embrace market capitalism but much of his ‘existence’ is reduced to Seymour-style peasant economics and bartering for hay with the locals.

Seymour’s 1961 book The Fat Of The Land is the ur-text for River Cottage. Seymour is never mentioned by name, but Hugh waxes on his desire to live “off the fat of the land” at numerous junctures. (“You are the fat of the land!’ retorts his airhead of a scallop diving tutor at one point, as he struggles to wrench his pecs into a dry-suit.) Re-reading Seymour’s classic and hilariously ornery account of self-sufficiency in the Suffolk wilds, winks to the old fella are explicit, from the similarities between Seymour’s ‘council house’ hen coops with the high-and-low-rise ‘avian estate’ Hugh builds and dubs ‘Chickenopolis’, to their dual promotion of puffballs, pike and eels as unheralded treats.

Crucially, Seymour and Hugh are both fundamentally appalled by rampant consumerism. “This is a still-relevant protest against an encroaching norm that many of us feel at odds with, and yet somehow struggle to resist,” Hugh wrote in his foreword to Little Toller’s 2017 edition. It’s a sentiment echoed, loudly, in his own The River Cottage Cookbook that accompanied the series. Hugh’s clarion call in the book was to shift people along what he dubbed a “food acquisition continuum”, away from faceless retailers and towards the front-line of producers, whether directly or via farmers markets.

Hugh is sensible to note that while Seymour was a self-proclaimed crank – committed to archaic pastimes like taking lengthy pony-and-trap holidays, a kind of subtly enraged Vashti Bunyan – his book is miles away from “charming 1950s whimsy”. Indeed, it’s stayed in print for over half a century, and the ideas it celebrates – ”self-reliance, resourcefulness, connection to the land, the rejection of greed” – are timeless, central to the organic and environmental movements that came after.

One must also stress how enlightened to the mainstream the “eat everything but the oink” philosophy embraced by Hugh in River Cottage would have been at the time. St John – the offal-celebrating London restaurant founded by chef Fergus Henderson – had only been open five years when Escape To River Cottage aired. Its trademark ‘nose-to-tail’ remit, to respect an animal by eating every part of it, has been totemically influential on the food world. Hugh was effectively pushing the remit in parallel with Henderson. Stuffing a goose neck with its own pluck. Dissecting a boiled pig’s head for brawn. Flash-frying a still-quivering calf’s testicle. All of these would have been outré to the majority of viewers, and many in the actual series themselves. It was hugely prescient of a movement that continues to flourish (and rankles squeamish eaters still) and something for which Hugh deserves enormous credit and rarely gets.

Twenty years later, the hyper-local philosophy at the core of River Cottage is seeing real-world impact. A mix of essential post-Brexit localism, growing aversion to food miles, and a brushing aside of rarefied Michelin metrics of ‘luxury’ has been galvanised in a booming farm-to-table movement that champions provenance, sustainability and seasonality above all. Michelin may have been paying lip service to a world it’s always ignored when it introduced ‘Green Star’ awards for eco-minded restaurants earlier this year – but the fact that the River Cottage farm/restaurant near Axminster is on the list, alongside pioneers like l’Enclume and Coombeshead Farm, is indicative of Hugh’s lasting commitment to a seed first dug in at Netherbury.

Now, as then, even in its flaws River Cottage is superlative television; celebratory and respectful of a world then slowly-fading outside the purview of mass consumption. It’s imbued with a verve that I also feel rattling the bones of the Isle of Wight ever more when I go home; a sense of belonging that doesn’t resonate in the city (and that I’d happily return to if, like Hugh’s Dorset, it wasn’t so grindingly white). From a personal view, it remains distant and oneiric; a sole cycling pilgrimage to see the old cottage scuppered when a friend got too hammered and smashed his face in on a steep incline near the Cerne Abbas giant (but then, you know what they say about meeting your heroes – or, I suppose, lurking near their holiday homes).

In a flourishing age of ‘new nature’ media, abundant in both green-healing introspective woo and crypto-fascist, Brexit-era blood-and-soil revivalism, River Cottage seems a singularly madcap, wistful and insightful curio of a programme. “I may not always be here,” says Hugh in the final episode, as dusk draws in on his time in Dorset, “but everyone I’ve met and all I’ve done will be part of my life forever.” You believe he’s sincere, and for the right reasons. Hugh’s cornucopia might be a little barren now, but for a few years it overflowed. For that time alone, I remain sated.