It was extremely pleasing this week to see that a review carried out by the BBC Trust has reported that the BBC is failing it's rural viewers with it's countryside programmes.
Apparently the report found that the BBC's content does not reflect the real economic and social concerns of the countryside and a BBC insider is quoted as saying that it feels like the BBC is looking from London into the countryside as a place of entertainment and leisure, and not at the wider social and economic diversity present in rural areas.
Let's face it, most of us who work or who are active in the countryside at ground roots level accept that the likes of Countryfile and Springwatch are entertaining but they also have a definite blind spot when it comes to showing the grittier aspects of the countryside. I thought that this year's Springwatch had finally woken up to that fact when they actually showed what corvids and badgers are capable of in respect of young animals, chicks and eggs, but they left it at that. Where was the follow on about pest controls and the measures that are used to combat these predators, you can better your bottom dollar that Minsmere, like many RSPB reserves, carry out pest controls such as culling of foxes and corvids but if they do, neither the BBC or the RSPB were willing to show them. It's always about the fluffy side of countryside events and we have a generation growing up being fed only half the story by these programmes. Too quote the British Association for Shooting and Conservation - "shooting is an integral and important part of life in the countryside but is rarely given due credit. It provides jobs, generates income and makes a significant contribution to crop protection and food safety. By creating and managing habitats it benefits a wide range of wildlife. Little of this good news ever gets fully reported." It certainly doesn't on Countryfile.
It could be justifiably argued these days that shooting associations/landowners are contributing as much to conservation on their land as the likes of the RSPB and others on their reserves. And before some of the more sensitive types that call themselves countryside lovers start ranting about the fact that shooting types kill things, well so they do. But what's the difference between what they do and a reserve such as Minsmere where the conservationists stand by day after day and do nothing as the likes of gulls, corvids and badgers kill and eat countless of the eggs and chicks that they are supposed to be protecting.
On my shelf at home I have the complete box set of all the episodes of Jack Hargreaves's "Out of Town" television series. Now these programmes went out in the early evening and were presented by a 100% old countryman who spoke about and described countless old country pursuits such as shooting, ferreting, eel trapping, fishing, killing things, etc. etc. - pursuits that don't exist in Countryfile's view of the countryside. Youngsters such as I learnt a lot from those programmes and were determined to get out in the countryside and have a go at them and I for one took up both eel trapping and rabbiting.
Just look at the features in one of the DVD's - one of them is about pigeon shooting - perhaps they should rename Countryfile as Countryfile (only the nice bits)