Helen Skelton struggles as goat stands on her back
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The TV presenter returns to screens tonight in Channel 5’s This Week On The Farm. Skelton, who has spent 16 years in broadcasting, worked her way up from local radio to shows including Countryfile, Blue Peter, Strictly Come Dancing and Lorraine. The 37-year-old has been vocal about Brexit since the EU referendum and raised concern about how it would affect the lives of British farmers.
She warned of the problems some in the agricultural sector could face without EU farming subsidies, following the nation voting for Brexit.
Skelton urged the public to support their farmers by shopping locally – only to be called out by viewers online.
In January, she took Countryfile fans to Craig House Farm Shop, in Leeds, to showcase their organic wares.
However, the star came under fire after encouraging people to spend their money at “small independents” who needed “our help now more than ever”.
Fans took to Twitter after discovering one jar of Yorkshire’s Blossom honey cost £6.99 compared to supermarkets where it can be one-sixth of the price.
One user wrote: “Would buy local if I could afford to do [sic] in these places.”
A second quipped: “£6 for a jar of honey?!? Well stung there.”
Skelton’s backlash followed Countryfile viewers’ complaints about the BBC “lecturing” them on Brexit.
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Tom Heap, one of the show’s presenters, noted it was a “new dawn” since leaving the EU and claimed: “The UK is striking out alone”.
He warned farmers would face “the most significant changes to farming policy in a generation”.
Previously many of them relied on EU subsidies but now grants through the Basic Payment Scheme will change.
By 2028 they will be “phased out completely” according to Heap and instead, farmers will receive money from Environmental Land Management Schemes – which rewards “greener projects”.
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On Twitter, furious fans branded Heap the “doom lord” and claimed he was there to “dig it into us about the effects of #Brexit”.
A second said it was no “surprise” that “BBC’s #Countryfile” was being “typically BBC negative about #Brexit” and “lecturing” the public.
A third claimed “all those farmers” had “voted for Brexit so they could have something else to moan about”.
In 2018, the Daily Express asked Skelton for her thoughts about leaving the EU.
She warned: “I’m sure Brexit will have an effect on our farmers.”
Skelton claimed to be “kind of well aware [of] what will change with subsidies”.
She believed the cessation of EU farming subsidies would “have a long-term effect” and put those in the industry at risk.
However, Skelton pointed out that Brexit would “not have any effect” on Countryfile.
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She noted that it was “made by the BBC” so had “changed massively in terms of how it’s now made by the studios”.
Skelton said: “It’s a different programme in that sense.”
Last month, the star “got in trouble” after she shared behind-the-scenes footage of the Countryfile cast being heckled by cows.
She admitted it was a “challenge” to film with wild animals – especially mischievous goats, who unintentionally ruined takes.
Despite the filming blunders, Skelton told the Daily Express: “The whole joy and challenge of filming with animals is that they don’t care.”
She noted that it led to disruptions to their “schedules”, “cameras” being blocked and people being unable to “do stuff they need to do”.
Skelton added: “Often things take a lot longer because you don’t want to get to spit on by the alpacas.”
She claimed to have “got in trouble, one day” because she constantly pestered the team to “share the outtakes”.
Skelton wanted to offer viewers a peek into the lighter side of the job because “people find it funny”.
She said it was “not uncommon” for the crew to “get the giggles and lose it” during takes.
Skelton recalled getting “heckled a lot by a [Highland] cow” and claimed the animal “constantly moos non-stop whenever I’m trying to do links to camera”.
She added: “But we have a laugh as well… I [am] very grateful to be working and grateful to be working with people that we like. So it is a laugh.”
Helen Skelton stars in This Week On The Farm, which airs at 8pm tonight on Channel 5.
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