GROWING up in a house with a staunch royalist as a Mum, it’s only to be expected that when I see a member of the Royal Family, it’s hard to supress the desire to say something republican, or pull out my ears and start mumbling about talking to flowers.
But in perhaps the clearest sign yet that I’ve grown up (as if the mortgage, the child, the long commutes to work and the fact a Saturday lie in is now a distant memory weren’t all conclusive proof already) I actually found Countryfile: By Royal Appointment (Sunday, 7pm, BBC 1) rather enjoyable.
Countryfile, the BBC’s weekly yomp through the countryside celebrated its 25th anniversary at the weekend. It shifted from a gentle Sunday morning slot about two years ago into Sunday evening primetime, and appears to go from strength to strength.
However, whether someone who lives in the countryside week in week out really connects with Countryfile these days is debatable – it often feels like Towniefile – a kind of Wish You Were Here with added farmers, as the BBC’s stable of young presenters learn about rural affairs.
But if Prince Charles is anything to go by, it still holds a place in the heart of many countryside dwellers. He appeared as “guest editor” of Countryfile as a 25th birthday present to the show.
Now the phrase guest editor is one which often makes a journalist shudder. It can mean many things, but normally involves a celebrity getting involved in the daily news conference and coming up with ideas which are sometimes great, or sometimes bonkers.
But they don’t often then make themselves the subject of many of the features, or offer up a kind of “Through the Keyhole” of their home. Prince Charles did both - although it was a tour of his farm, not one of his homes, which we were treated too.
Several things stood out for me, not least the fact that one of the most ridiculed royals of his generation was such a good sport when it came to getting involved with presenting the show. I’d go so far as it say he was good fun too.
Then there were the team of presenters. They just treated him like a knowledgable, interesting man rather than adopting the kind of swoon-swoon style you often see when a royal comes anywhere within 100 yards of a BBC camera.
It was all really very, well, nice. And maybe that’s the enduring appeal of Countryfile. Despite the gloss-up it received to make it more suitable for primetime, it’s enduring appeal remains that it’s just pleasant to watch, uncovering hidden stories about the countryside and, I would imagine, triggering tourism increases for any place it features.
There is one part of the programme which leave me a little sad though – and that’s the often bit-part role now played by John Craven. This may just be because he was a stalwart of my childhood TV viewing, but his six or seven minutes poking at a big countryside issue often feel like the most informative, and interesting of the whole show.
I’ve nothing against Julia Bradbury, but I’m more likely to trust directions from gentle John if out and about on a rural walk.
What I’ll be watching next week: There’s no avoiding Comic Relief is there? (Friday, 7pm, BBC 1). More seriously, the excellent Prisoners Wives returns from 9pm tonight (Thursday, BBC 1)