Countryfile takes a trip down memory lane with the legend John Craven as he celebrates 25 years on the show.
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There's nowhere I'm more at home
than in our stunning British countryside.
and from boats to bridges,
I've pretty much seen it all.
I've explored almost every corner of rural Britain
and discovered fascinating stories about its people and history.
It's all been a wonderful experience for me over the years
and today I am celebrating my 25th anniversary on Countryfile.
It was in July, 1989 that I made my very first
appearance on the programme.
Since then, the show has undergone many changes,
and so has the countryside.
To mark the occasion, and for one week only,
I've been asked to step into the editor's shoes,
so it is up to me what's going to be in the programme.
I've sent Ellie on a wildlife mission.
She's looking right at me.
I've been rumbled!
I've asked Tom to look into the latest state of play with organics.
They are a fantastic colour.
They really shine out, don't they?
Matt is driving along a country road I know
that helped change motoring history.
If there was a list of ways to experience the British countryside,
this would be at the top.
And I'll be celebrating on Adam's farm, with my old friend.
Now then, John. Here's to...
Whoa!..another 25 years!
Well, I'm not sure about THAT!
'I've come to the Countryfile base at BBC Bristol
'for my first task as guest editor.
'I've got to decide, with the help of the production team,
'what to put into the programme.'
Guys, a nice day to be outside.
-Good morning, John.
This is the first time I've met all of you around a conference table.
Normally it's in the middle of a field somewhere.
So, it's the first time I've been in an editor's chair
since my Newsround days!
Brilliant, how does it feel, John?
-I don't know, I'll tell you later!
-We've come up with some ideas.
But I suppose an awful lot of you weren't even born
when I started doing Countryfile, a quarter of a century ago.
These are just some of the names that you will see
on the credits at the end of the programme.
We've got researchers, directors, runners,
the production management team and, of course, producers.
What I'd like to do on this programme is
look back at some of the big issues we've dealt with over those years,
and some of the fun times, as well.
Anybody remember anything in particular?
I remember seeing a piece on the Isle of Man when you were
driving around in a motorcycle, and you looked like you were loving it.
Yes! On a BSA Bantam.
When I was a boy, I used to go there, to the TT races,
on my little Bantam,
and the programme managed to find one in a museum,
and I had a lovely time, yes.
I remember the very first time, watching Countryfile,
and being impassioned by a story I saw there
about dolphins washing up on the beach in Cornwall.
Obviously, wildlife has always been a big interest of mine
from my Newsround days, obviously, and then through into Countryfile.
I think it would nice to take a look at the state
especially of endangered species in this country,
how are they faring now compared to 25 years ago?
Hi, Tom. How are you?
'He's in today to record his commentary
'for another edition of Countryfile.'
-And I've got a job for you later on.
-I'll tell you later.
'I'll be briefing Ellie and Matt, as well.
'And, of course, I mustn't forget Adam.'
Adam hasn't been part of the Countryfile family
for quite as long as I have, but it is hard to imagine
the programme now without his farm in the Cotswolds.
If we just come back with Archie...
I've popped in to see him on one of his filming days.
This is Archie, my new Highland bull that I'm very proud of.
I bought him from the Queen...
It looks like being a typical day down on Adam's farm,
the only one in the country with a resident film crew.
-Hi, John, how are you? Good to see you!
-And this is the famous Archie!
-It is, indeed.
-How's he settling in?
He's all right, still a little bit lively.
We're going to put him in with the cows soon.
You must have seen hundreds of animals
-on thousands of farms, John?
-I've lost count, Adam.
In the early days, it was much more of a farming programme.
Half an hour on Sunday mornings.
And a much harder programme which looked at a lot of farming issues.
But what really struck a chord with me
when I first started on Countryfile, looking back,
was you telling the farmers about the story of foot and mouth.
It was a devastating time for the livestock industry.
'The foot and mouth crisis of 2001 affected everyone, not just farmers.
'Millions of animals were slaughtered
'and a huge sadness fell across the countryside.'
'I'll never forget what I saw, heard, and smelt over those weeks.'
But some good eventually did come out of bad.
Ten years after the all-clear,
I visited the disused airfield in North Cumbria
where half a million animals were buried.
Now, it's an impressive nature reserve
and helping me plant a commemorative tree
was retired brigadier Alex Burtwhistle -
the man who'd been given the task of burying all those carcasses.
This is a much smaller hole than the ones I'm accustomed to digging here.
But I am delighted, all jocularity aside,
I'm delighted that something positive
has come out of what was a very harrowing time for all concerned.
I'm very pleased to be here with John
to plant this sturdy English oak.
I hope I haven't been an unlucky mascot for farming,
because when I joined the show
suddenly agriculture seemed to have a lot of diseases.
Now, then, John, I know you like to get involved,
-so why don't you take Archie for a walk?
-Do you think so?
I'm not sure I should.
Remember what happened last time I handled one of your big beasts?
-I remember, knocked you over, didn't he?
-Come on, come on.
-He's behaving well.
-Look at that, a natural!
'They say, "Never work with children or animals".
'But that pretty much sums up my career in broadcasting!'
COW BREAKS WIND Oh!
'Countryfile has given me the perfect opportunity
'to indulge my passion for wildlife.'
-Hold up, there's one right up close.
-Checking us out.
'I've been able to report on many remarkable stories.'
We've just spotted a humpback whale,
one of the great creatures of the sea.
I just caught a glimpse of it as it went down, there it is, over there.
'Red kites were close to extinction in the UK when I first filmed them.'
This is the airport at Madrid, the Spanish capital.
I'm just boarding a flight to London escorting an unusual passenger -
this rare and beautiful bird of prey, a red kite.
It's flying to London the easy way to make its home in the wild
in the British countryside.
-Would you like to let the first four go now?
-Yeah, all right, OK!
'I've been thrilled to see them go full circle,
'thriving again in the wild.
'There are now thousands of them.'
'And I've got up close to lots of other animals also,
'like this little dormouse.'
There he goes.
Very agile, aren't they?
Very much so!
'Working on Countryfile has given me
'privileged access to places most people can't get to.
'But anybody can visit the Isle of Mull and see a wildlife treat -
'the nest of one of our largest birds of prey, the white tailed sea eagle.'
This must be the only place in the world where you can
come and publicly see such a rare bird.
It's the only place with a live nest that you can see the chicks
with your own eyes.
We have got our CCTV pictures, as well, you can get a close-up view.
But, yeah, it's absolutely fantastic
and lots of people have a very good time coming to see them.
As editor for this week, what I'd like to do now is to take
a look at the current state of British wildlife.
Are things better now than they were 25 years ago?
What have been the success stories and which species are in trouble?
I've asked a fellow wildlife lover, Ellie, to take a look.
This mission is right up my street
because I also have a passion for the wildlife of Britain.
Since John has been presenting Countryfile, there have
undoubtedly been some huge losses in British wildlife.
But it's not all bad news -
there's also been some remarkable recoveries.
Conservation scientist Mark Eaton gives me an overview.
Mark, what is the general state of nature in Britain today?
Our state of nature report last year found that more species
are decreasing than increasing.
We found about 60% of the species have declined.
The other thing we found was a lot of species showing really quite
large changes. So, either plummeting down, or big increases.
But one of the good pieces of news is that we have got
better at conservation, I think.
We've seen wonderful recoveries. We've seen the red kite coming back.
We've seen large blue butterflies, which were completely extinct,
now flourishing in the West Country.
So, things like that, excellent news.
What we're less good at is animals and plants in the wider countryside
which you can't help by creating a nature reserve.
-How important is farmland in this?
About 75% of the UK is farmland.
How we manage that, how we extract that food,
has a huge impact on the wildlife trying to live there.
We need to help farmers and those who manage land to help wildlife.
Many once-common farmland birds
are on the brink of extinction in Britain.
The turtle dove is now our fastest declining bird -
in the last 25 years, it's suffered a 91% population dive.
A lack of seed is thought to be the major cause.
Turtle dove expert Simon Tonkin explains the problem.
Why this big decline in turtle dove numbers?
Essentially, one of the major concerns is finding enough
food during the breeding season.
What about this crop here, we've got wheat growing.
Is this no good for them?
Wheat's going to be available as a seed source
at the back end of the season, so August time.
That's actually when turtle doves think about migrating
back to their wintering grounds.
And they're a bird that just eats seeds.
And lots of these crops are grown with very little
room for wildlife, to be fair.
But farmers are doing their bit to help.
-So, Simon, this is part of the solution.
The farmers here are putting aside at least 10% of their land
to specific wildlife measures.
So things like this clover, birdsfoot trefoils and other things,
those will set seeds at the right time of the year
for when turtle doves not only arrive back here,
but also when they've got young, as well.
Boosting turtle dove numbers is not only about increasing their food.
It's also about monitoring the behaviour
of the few birds we have left.
Jenny, how're you doing? Good to meet you.
'I'm off on a mission with scientist Jenny Dunn, who's been tagging
'and radio tracking these extremely rare birds.
'But will we track down this elusive creature?'
-So there's a receiver on the roof to pick up the sound.
-What number is the bird?
-This one is 951.
-Oh, is that it?
-Yeah, that's it.
-That is. Yeah!
We're incredibly lucky to get a signal.
Turtle doves are so scarce
it can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Been monitoring this bird for a couple of weeks now,
so we know it is on a nest nearby.
-Sounds like we're getting close.
-Yes, we're not far off now.
'Jenny has seen turtle doves in this spot before,
'but will they be here today?'
Can you see the chicks?
There's two, two little heads.
She's looking right at me.
-Yes, she's spotted you.
-I've been rumbled!
Oh, it's great.
What a fantastic sight.
That is so fabulous. They are increasingly rare.
I just hope that's not a sight that I'll never see again.
That was brilliant. Love it.
Whilst our turtle doves are fighting for survival,
a one-time struggling species is now flourishing.
Otters - once incredibly rare,
restricted to all but a few far-flung pockets of the country.
Today they are in every county having made a miraculous comeback.
'Not all our wildlife is on the brink.
'I'm heading to an unlikely spot for nature -
'a suburban house in a small Essex town.'
Hi, Sue, how are you doing?
Sue Manning has had a passion for otters for 13 years.
I'm here to find out about the animals at the bottom of her garden.
What was it that first got you into otters?
Mainly because I started volunteering with the Essex Wildlife Trust.
When you see your first otters you get quite excited
because it takes a long time to find one!
And then you went on to start looking at them
in quite a serious way.
Well, I knew they were here so, as soon as I put the CCTV camera up,
within days I'd had my first shot.
-Can we have a look at some of the shots?
Have a look at these.
This was the first shot I have, and you can just see...
-There it is.
-And that was enough to get you hooked?
-I'm afraid so.
-I see two.
-So that was quite exciting.
This one is quite funny. It's just...
There we go.
Ooh! That's an energetic splash. That's such speed.
Have you got any footage with young?
Yeah, that would have been...
-Mum, and there's babies.
And there's another baby.
And what's interesting now is that I saw Mum plus two
and then, this year, Mum plus three.
-Got to be really happy with that.
-That's such wonderful footage.
-It's such a joy to see, right here, at the bottom of your garden.
Otters throughout the UK are thriving,
and Sue's otters are living proof of that.
It just goes to show that conservation
and habitat improvement can save wildlife.
If we continue these efforts,
other threatened animals,
like our turtle doves, should be doing as well in another 25 years.
-There we are, John. Look what we've got here.
-The latest arrival?
Yes, he was born last night, a little donkey foal.
-Is this proud Mum?
-It is indeed.
I remember when you were a new arrival on Countryfile,
when I met you here for the first time on this farm.
That was great, when you came and told me
I had won the competition to have a go at presenting on the show.
That was just amazing for me, and wonderful to meet you,
and incredible news.
Thousands of people have sent in videotapes of themselves
and from those we selected around 20 for screen testing,
and then we showed those tapes to a sample of Countryfile viewers,
and this is who they liked best - Adam Henson.
-Welcome to the programme.
-You're obviously from a rural background.
I was very fortunate in being brought up in the Cotswolds,
and born and bred on a farm.
And now I run this with my old college friend
as part of the whole business.
-We're surrounded by Highland cattle. Are they friendly?
They meet the public all the time and this one's a bit of a favourite.
They're no trouble at all.
-And look what happened to you!
-I know. 13 years on, I'm still here.
Now, how did YOU get started on Countryfile?
Well, I'd just left Newsround, I'd been doing that for a long time,
and I was looking for something different and the BBC said,
"We've got this new rural affairs programme called Countryfile.
"Do you fancy giving that a go?"
So I said, "Why not?" Something totally different.
In your time on the programme the programme has changed a lot,
but the countryside has changed a great deal, too.
It certainly has, and not just farming.
The whole sort of social issues of the countryside
have gone much higher up the national agenda,
and people are now very concerned about isolation,
about lack of rural bus services, lack of shops and pubs,
lack of affordable housing for young people -
who's going to do the farming, work the countryside
if they can't afford to live there?
All those sort of things, very important these days.
-One thing you covered a lot was organics.
Organics has been a huge movement, hasn't it, over the last 25 years?
In fact, the very first film I made for Countryfile
was about organics, and does it have a future?
Who would have guessed just 12 months ago that the methods
used by British farmers would have been questioned
in quite the way they have been by the customers?
The green revolution has reached the fields of Britain.
So how is the organic industry faring 25 years on?
I've asked Tom to investigate.
Organic food -
for its supporters, it's better for the environment
and better for us, and that's a message its devotees
have been pushing for well over a quarter of a century.
More and more, the consumers are wanting food
that's grown in this kind of soil,
that hasn't seen a drop of chemical of any kind for many, many years.
Since John first reported on the subject in 1989,
one of the biggest bones of contention has been the claim
organic food is healthier than conventional produce.
Now, in the largest study of its kind,
scientists claim to be able to show a definite difference
that may prove that organics are better for you.
The study was done by an international team
funded by European money and organic supporters, the Sheepdrove Trust.
Its findings are based on the results of hundreds of experiments
carried out by scientists all over the world, as well as here in the UK.
This is Nafferton Farm,
Newcastle University's Agricultural Research Unit,
where they grow plots of different crops side by side,
some grown conventionally, others organically,
and they can see the difference.
Professor Carlo Leifert is one of the scientists
responsible for bringing together
the research to create this new analysis.
What were the main results from your study?
We found that, on average, over all crops,
over all countries in the world that have carried out
these sorts of studies, organic crops contained
higher levels of antioxidants,
lower concentrations of a toxic heavy metal called cadmium,
and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organic crops.
What's significant, particularly, about the antioxidant findings?
They have been linked to lower incidence
of certain diseases in humans.
'Carlo's claims are based on more than 340 peer-reviewed studies,
'which he says point to significant differences
'between organic and conventionally grown crops.'
'But, even so, he stops short of saying that organic
'definitely provides healthier food.'
Why are you cautious about saying that organics are better for you?
Well, I'm a scientist.
You have to now do the obvious experiment,
which is compare people eating an organic diet with people eating
a conventional diet to find out how much of a health impact
you can get from that.
Although it's not proven yet, higher levels of some antioxidants
have been linked with health benefits in food.
Here is your typical recommended five-a-day.
Now, according to Carlo's claims,
if this were an organic plateful, in terms of antioxidants
it would be delivering an extra one to two portions,
so an organic plateful of five-a-day
gives you the nutrient hit of six or seven-a-day.
But what impact will this study have on the organic movement?
Certainly, when John first reported on the subject,
hopes of growth were high.
One prediction is that by the year 2000
20% of all British agriculture will be grown organically.
But that never happened.
In fact, rather than 20%, even by its peak in 2008,
it was actually grown on less than 5% of agricultural land
and, as organic produce is generally more expensive,
soon after the financial downturn it went into decline.
So, will this report change that?
Lord Peter Melchett is the Policy Director of the Soil Association.
Well, it's very exciting. It's taken years to do it.
They've had to pull together
343 different individual research projects.
It's a massive job, but I think the conclusions are very positive.
And what impact do you think, or hope, it will have on sales?
The first thing I think it will do is confirm the views of people
who already buy organic.
They generally believe that organic has a better nutrient profile
for fruit and veg and so on.
This research confirms that.
Then I think it will influence some people
who maybe thought that the way in which you grow food,
the way in which you farm,
makes no difference to the quality of the food.
This research chucks that myth out the window.
In the past, though,
high-profile studies of organics
have come to a very different conclusion,
prompting some pretty definitive statements,
with one of the most notable coming from
the then Head of the Food Standards Agency.
They're not getting value for money in my opinion
and in the opinion of the Food Standards Agency
if they think they're buying extra nutritional quality or extra safety.
They really do seem to have a blind spot about organics,
Sir John and the FSA.
Actually, he said that three years ago and it's got worse.
So, is Peter Melchett now in a stronger position
to make eye-catching health claims?
What we've got now is a meta-analysis,
pulling together all these hundreds of research studies
from all over the world, over a long period of time.
It completely changes the nature of the scientific evidence
that people need to look at.
You've been plugging organics for at least 25 years,
we've been investigating for that length of time,
In all that time, you're not able to say that
they're better for you, for our health.
-Surely that's a failing?
-You can't be too impatient, Tom.
The first step is do the work to see if how you grow food
and how you farm makes a difference to the quality of the food.
That's been questioned up till now.
After the publication of this research
I don't think it can be questioned any more.
So, what does the academic who's been rubbishing the health claims
of organic foods all these years make of the latest study?
Today, Lord Krebs is the Principal of Jesus College, Oxford.
This study suggests that organic farming leads to increased levels
of nutritionally desirable compounds, ie, it's better for you.
-Do you agree?
-I don't think this study shows that.
That's what they claim it does.
No, what they're claiming is that it contains
higher levels of certain compounds, like antioxidants,
that may or may not have health benefits,
but they themselves acknowledge that they haven't looked
at the actual health benefit consequences,
so simply saying it's got more in
doesn't necessarily prove that it's better for you.
These are not just the views of Lord Krebs.
Within the scientific community there has already been criticism,
questioning everything from the process to the final results.
Do you still think people are wasting their money buying organic food?
I think it's an individual choice whether you buy organic food or not.
Some people may think it tastes better
some may think it's better for the environment,
but if you're buying it on the basis that it makes you healthier,
and you're paying a premium for that,
then you are still wasting your money.
What really matters is eating a balanced diet,
and it doesn't matter whether it's organic or not.
So, rather than putting an end to the controversy,
this scientific study seems to have reinvigorated an argument
that's been rumbling on for well over a quarter of a century.
In the often-noisy debate over organics and health,
this is a significant piece of work and, while it may not trigger
an organic revolution, it may well persuade some people to spend
a little bit more on what they believe is good for them.
'Ever since the early days of Countryfile,
'I've spent a lot of time talking to farmers...'
Last word with the farmer, then.
If we don't look after the countryside,
it'll just go to wrack and ruin.
'..and to a whole host of other interesting people...'
That's quite a combination, Andrew, grocer and funeral director.
Yeah, you sort of look after them when they're living
and then you look after them when they pass on to the next stage.
'I've met a Prince, prime ministers,
'and people who grow everything from tomatoes...'
Mmm! Never thought I'd eat an Icelandic tomato!
-And can you eat these olives, then?
-Do you want to try?
-They look very inviting, don't they?
They're a beautiful colour on a lovely colour tree.
'I've met butchers...'
Nice to see you. '..bakers and a sandcastle-maker.'
I love the detail. I mean,
how do you do the stonework here?
I just scratch in the sand here, like this, then blow the surface.
You mustn't suck, or you end up with a mouthful of sand!
'I've lazed in the meadow with Jilly Cooper...
'taken a walk with Alan Titchmarsh,
'and even met another version of myself.'
Hello, again, and on this special 20th anniversary of Countryfile,
what better way to surprise John Craven than with another John Craven?
-John, how are you?!
-John Craven went to find out more. Hello, John.
'There's been local historians...'
There's a lovely story about the hairy hands.
As you're driving home across Dartmoor,
this hairy hand comes from nowhere
and grabs the steering wheel and pulls you off the road
and you have a terrible accident.
The environment is what we live in
and we should understand it, taste it, smell it
and then respect it.
'..and lots and lots of Countryfile viewers.'
You've washed your hands, haven't you, after that dirty work?
-Hey, guys, you'll never guess who this is.
-Hello, my name is John Craven.
-We need a stand-in!
He's so busy, sometimes we need somebody else. Can you do it?
Are you available?
I always tell my colleagues I'm much better looking than he is!
And I must say, very nice, similar line in sweaters going on here!
Honestly, I've loved every minute of it,
but one of my favourite bits
has to be our annual photographic competition.
Picture number one is Welsh Farmer On Horseback by Myra Price,
aged 15 from Dyfed.
'In the 23 years that the photo competition has been running,
'I've seen a vast array of breathtaking photos.'
And the winner, by a margin of over 1,000 votes,
is Penny Hughes with her Farmyard Scene.
'And selecting the winners were some pretty perceptive judges.'
What about this one, Levitation?
What would you call that? It's so sweet, that.
I've got the winner here. This one.
What do you reckon?
It's a... A red kite...
Of course it is. Of course.
We first turned the winning photographs into a calendar in 2000
and they've raised millions of pounds for Children in Need.
It would be impossible to say which I think is the best
picture of the hundreds of thousands that have been sent in over
the 20-odd years of the competition, but this is one of my favourites.
It's the overall winner from 2010 by Jennifer Duncan,
and it always makes me smile.
I love the way that all the other puffins are watching this one
to see whether he makes a mess of the landing.
This week we're celebrating John Craven's
25th anniversary on Countryfile.
The cake's ready...
the bubbles are on ice...
and we've made him editor for this particular episode.
Choosing what to go into the programme has been a tough job,
especially when he's done so many different things
and been to so many different places.
Here in Bedfordshire...
Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire...
Bakewell in the heart of the Peak District National Park...
Beverly Hills in California...
The coast of South Wales...
Gigha in the Inner Hebrides...
The South Downs of West Sussex...
We're on the Falkland Islands... The Isle of Mull...
North Devon... ..islands...
Britain's tallest mountain, Ben Nevis.
We can't see a thing of it today.
But, no matter what the weather,
Countryfile covers the whole of the British Isles
almost every week of the year.
And this week I'm in the Cotswolds on Adam's farm.
We're very lucky though, John, aren't we?
As well as seeing great places, we get to go behind the scenes,
-and we're always learning something new, aren't we?
You go back to familiar places, but there's things you never knew about.
I mean, recently, I went to Crummackdale in the Yorkshire Dales.
Now, I love the Dales, but I'd never heard of Crummackdale before.
And in Crummackdale there's these amazing stones
called the Norber Erratics.
It's upside down geology.
The older stones are at the top
and they're creating fantastic shapes.
One place I went to that was really dramatic was to
the north-west coast of Scotland, just stunning up there.
And the Northumberland coast is one of my favourite places, as well.
But really, for me, there's no place like home - the Cotswold hills.
In fact, this clump of trees is very special
because I can see it from miles around.
When I'm 20-30 miles from home, I can see it, recognise it,
and know I'm nearly home.
Back in 2001, I did a series of films for Countryfile
about classic drives in classic cars,
from a Bentley to an old Morris Minor,
and I went all over the countryside.
I remember, in Ireland, I stopped on the banks of Galway Bay
and had a little sing.
-I remember your dulcet tones. You've got a good voice.
-How much of that was really you?
-Bing Crosby a bit of it.
# If you ever go across the sea to Ireland
# BING CROSBY: Then maybe, at the closing of your day
# You will sit and watch the moon rise over Claddagh
# And watch the barefoot gossoons at their play... #
Now, I'm not expecting Matt to give us a song,
but I'm sure he would like to make a journey across the countryside
in a classic car, so that's the assignment I've set him.
It's a story I've found from my own knowledge of the Chiltern Hills.
So John has sent me to Buckinghamshire,
where I'm making a trip to a rather special hill,
one with a classic car connection.
But, right now, the only vintage vehicle is my old Land Rover.
Back in the early 1900s,
this stunning yet sleepy bit of countryside gave its name
to one of Britain's most famous classic cars.
The hill on which I stand is Aston Hill
and the car I'm talking about is the Aston Martin.
A century ago, Aston Hill was the spot for a growing sport.
Hill climbing, not on foot, but in that then rare thing -
At only 800m, the track was short,
but the sharp turns demanded a lot of the new drivers.
In 1914, a young man called Lionel Martin
took part in Aston Hillclimb.
Now, he was so successful in this race that,
when he went on to build his own cars,
he combined the name of this hill with his own name - Aston Martin -
and a legend in the history of British motoring was born.
Vintage Aston Martins are restored by hand using traditional skills.
It takes years to master them.
Foolishly, they're letting me have a go.
How long is the actual apprenticeship?
I've been in this for 27 years now and I'm still learning
how to, you know, get various shapes
and different sort of curves, and all that sort of thing.
Ooh, I went a little bit too much there. Ooh.
Will this be going on a car?
-It will? All right then, OK.
-It definitely will.
-Just don't tell the customer.
-Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Anyway, if I'm working on YOUR Aston Martin, I'm ever so sorry.
With so many heritage cars here,
I'm like a kid in a sweet shop.
Head of Aston Martin Works Paul Spires shows me a real classic.
Now, that car on the end there, Paul, that has caught my eye.
-Has it? Let's go and have a look at it.
-Yes, please. Oh!
Look at the... Oh, the door latch!
So if I was going to pop my Land Rover in part exchange
for something like this, how much more would I have to spend?
You'd probably have to add another £500,000 to that car.
-HE EXHALES DEEPLY
Originally, it was owned by Sir Paul McCartney and,
rumour has it, he started to write the lyrics to Hey Jude
actually driving this car.
-Really? Behind the wheel?
-Behind the wheel.
Now, would you like to take it for a little spin?
-Would I?! Paul, yes, please.
You know what? If it's good enough for Paul McCartney,
it's good enough for me. Here we go.
Oh, that's so wonderful!
If there was a list of ways to experience the British countryside,
this would be at the top.
# Hey, Jude... #
But McCartney's car is just the taxi to get me back to Aston Hill,
where I'm swapping the DB6 for a heritage racing car
to re-run the vintage climb.
I'm meeting Mark Donoghue, who owns one of the earliest Aston Martins.
It roared up here in the 1920s but hasn't been back since.
This is a 1923 Bamford and Martin Sidevalve,
known as "Cloverleaf" because of the style of the body
-and the little seat in the back here.
-Oh, is that the passenger there?
Yeah. He started the production line in 1923
and this was one of the very first cars that rolled out of that factory.
And what is it like then, for you, as the owner of this car now,
to be here at this very spot?
-I'm more of a custodian.
-It's an honour.
And to be here 90 years on is an incredible feeling.
Well, an honour for you and... an honour, an absolute honour,
for me because you've allowed me to have a little go of this.
-There's a lot of leavers and a lot of pedals...
..and they're all in the wrong order!
It's quite a complicated thing to drive.
It took me a couple of months.
You've got a couple of minutes to learn.
You'll notice that the accelerator and the brake pedal are reversed.
There is also a brake lever, which operates the rear wheels,
which you have to use simultaneously.
The gearbox is in reverse.
First is where fourth would be on a normal car,
and that's just the start. THEY LAUGH
Oh, dear, me!
Well, I tell you what, I'll do my best and you close your eyes.
That's a good idea. HE LAUGHS
There you go. ENGINE REVS
OK, let's see if we can get this thing moving.
There we go!
And they're off on Aston Hill! Woo-hoo!
-Right, I'm going to try for second!
-Go for it.
-Oh, yes! Oh, you did great!
-That was magnificent.
-We're in second and we're going up Aston Hill.
-It doesn't get any better than this, Mark.
-No, it doesn't.
'We're only doing 30mph, but it feels like 130.'
Let's see if I can get up this hill. I'm a little bit...
-Yeah, we'll be fine.
-Here we go! Come on, come on, come on!
-Come on, baby! Come on!
You're on home turf now! Oh, yes!
-We're going for the record!
-We're doing really well.
-Let's lean in!
'Not quite the same as one of John's serene drives.'
You can see why this was really tough to win, can't you?
Come on! Yes!
We're going to go all the way!
Well, we made it.
Obviously, Mark, this was the destination then -
the top of the hill.
-The top of Aston Hill.
-Indeed, it was.
-And what a view it is. Goodness me.
For me, today, to come here to the very spot where Aston Martin
got its name, and to bring this back...
-Almost to the day.
-Isn't that remarkable?
-You did really well.
-Oh, well, listen, thank you.
And, well, thank YOU, my dear.
I will never, ever, ever forget that as long as I live.
So, John, I owe you big time. Thank you.
-He seemed to enjoy that, didn't he?
And I know you really enjoyed your scenic
drives around the countryside, but you've had lots of other adventures
-along the way, haven't you?
-I have indeed and here's just a few.
Oh, good morning. Welcome... PIGS SQUEAL
How about that? HE LAUGHS
We all right?
Well, if... Oh! HE LAUGHS
Riding like the wind!
I'm in training for a challenge that Charlotte set me
when she went snorkelling in Wales.
So, now you know.
Well, now then, after all that lot, I've got one more surprise for you.
-Come on in here.
Now then, John...
-Come and have a look at this.
-What is this?
We've got a little bit of sparkle for you.
Oh, how lovely. Thank you.
Oh, and look at that cake.
"outstanding in his field."
-Oh, that's fantastic.
Well, I have to admit, I didn't make it,
-but it is from the whole Countryfile team.
-Well, that is super.
on reaching this incredible milestone on Countryfile.
Right, let's crack open the fizz.
When they said, "You're taking over from John",
that is the very definition of big shoes to fill.
Here's to another - whoa! Another 25 years!
Well... Not sure about THAT!
John, you are just a thoroughly, thoroughly wonderful man.
All that's left, John, is for you to say goodbye.
Right, well, I hope you've enjoyed my little trip down memory lane -
I certainly have - and see you again very soon, I hope. Bye for now.
Countryfile takes a trip down memory lane with the legend John Craven as he celebrates 25 years on the show. To mark this quarter of a century, for one week only he'll be guest editor and decide exactly what goes into the programme.
John meets fellow presenter and good friend Adam Henson on his farm to reminisce. They discuss the changes in farming over the years, the adventures he's had and the people he has met along the way, from prime ministers to pig farmers.
John sets various missions for the rest of the Countryfile presenters. Back in 1989, John investigated the growth of organic farming on his first ever Countryfile appearance. A quarter of a century on, Tom Heap looks back at that investigation and reveals brand-new research on the health benefits of organic food. Ellie explores the highs and lows of endangered species in the UK, a cause close to John's heart. And Matt does what John loves best; taking a drive in the beautiful British countryside in a classic sports car - only Matt does it in an Aston Martin!