Actor Kelvin Fletcher is getting stuck into a new presenting role as he travels round Britain meeting farmers and their livestock for new Channel 5 documentary, Springtime On The Farm
Best known for playing Emmerdale farmer Andy Sugden, actor Kelvin Fletcher, has swapped fiction for fact and will be pulling on his wellies for a brand new Channel 5 documentary series which goes behind the scenes of some of Britain’s busiest working farms responsible for putting the food on our tables.
Kelvin, 34, who left Emmerdale in 2016 after 20 years on the soap, is teaming up with a host of presenters and farmers, including Countryfile’s Adam Henson, Yorkshire Vet stars Peter Wright and Julian Norton, and Lindsey Chapman from Springwatch Unsprung, to get up close and personal with a variety of animals and meet farmers who have worked on the land for many generations.
Here in an exclusive interview with TV Times, Kelvin talks emotional births, scary billy goats and whether he'll be returning to Emmerdale....
TV Times: What made you want to take part in the show?
Kelvin Fletcher: "I’ve always wanted to do something along the lines of a documentary and branch out and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I love The Yorkshire Vet which is made by the same company so I was really excited when they asked me."
TVT: How much have you picked up from playing a farmer in Emmerdale?
KF: "I think a lot of people assume I know a lot from playing Andy, but actually I’ve just been leading you all on for 20 years and know very little!"
TVT: Which animals did you enjoy meeting on this new series?
KF: "I loved the sheepdogs that I met on a farm in Cumbria where they were being bred and trained. They were very affectionate, just like pets but then they do this amazing job and are a crucial part of the whole farm operation."
TVT: You visit a dairy farm don't you...
KF: " Yes, I’ve worked with cattle before on Emmerdale and they’re pretty placid but at the same time unpredictable and because of their sheer size, you’ve got to have your wits about. You really don't want 500 kilos of cow or whatever they weigh, suddenly leaning back on you. You've got to be on your guard and respect their size."
TVT: Any animals that scared you?
KF: "I met a huge billy goat. When I saw him for the first time in the field I almost hid behind the farmer. I couldn’t get over the sheer size of him and he had this huge orange beard. This sounds disgusting but apparently they wee on their beards to strengthen their scent. I’ve only ever seen little goats on petting farms before!"
TVT: How squeamish are you? Could you help with lambing or watch the birth of piglets?
KF: "There was a chance for me to watch a little goat kid being born, the mother was hours away from giving birth, but I was worried that I’d start crying! When my daughter, Marnie, was born I was completely overwhelmed and emotional. In the end I decided to steer clear of the baby goat’s birth incase I ended up weeping on camera. Witnessing the start of a new life is such a huge thing. Even the farmers who’ve seen hundreds of births still say they get affected by it but can't get too emotionally wrapped up in case there are complications."
TVT: Have you got any pets at home?
KF: "No, my mum and dad have got them, they’re dog and cat mad but I’ve never had any because when I left home at 17, I understood the responsibility, it’s almost like having a baby and for me, if I wasn’t able to give my absolute time and be completely devoted then I don't think it's fair. I would love to have a dog at some point when I've got more time."
TVT: Does your little girl like animals?
KF: "She’s absolutely animal crazy. We’ve been to numerous petting farms, she loves my mum's pets and whenever we’re in the park and we see a dog, she’s just straight over wanting to have a cuddle or a stroke. She’s got a genuine affection for them so I’m sure when she gets older I’ll get the inevitable, ‘Dad, can I have a puppy?’"
TVT: Did the animals on Emmerdale ever disrupt filming?
KF: "There were quite a few times when a cow would lift its tail and start doing a huge poo just at a crucial time. Usually when someone had just finished saying their lines in that nanosecond of total silence. Animals seem to have great comedic timing! Luckily there were always people on standby who were experienced with working with livestock making sure everything ran as smoothly as possible."
TVT: Have you got any plans to return to Emmerdale?
KF: "I don't look too far ahead into the future. It’s really exciting to be in the unknown at the moment, doing projects like this, diversifying and learning new things. I’m really proud of my time at Emmerdale and now I’m extremely proud to sit back as a viewer and watch them receive so many prestigious and well deserved awards. They're doing brilliantly and it's fantastic to see."
TVT: Who are you still in touch with from the cast?
KF: "I probably speak to Danny (Miller) and Adam (Thomas), the most and I rang Ryan (Hawley), the other night after he'd won an award to congratulate him - I think he's an amazing actor. He and Danny have such a great chemistry on screen and off. But I keep in touch with most of them. We send each other texts, meet up for coffees. I’m like a viewer now, constantly asking, ‘What’s going on with...What's happening to.....'. I'm asking all the same questions people used to ask me!"
Springtime On The Farm starts on Channel 5 Tuesday 10 April, 8pm, and continues all week, Wed, Thurs and Fri, 8pm
Tess is a senior writer for What’s On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite and WhattoWatch.com She's been writing about TV for over 25 years and worked on some of the UK’s biggest and best-selling publications including the Daily Mirror where she was assistant editor on the weekend TV magazine, The Look, and Closer magazine where she was TV editor. She has freelanced for a whole range of websites and publications including We Love TV, The Sun’s TV Mag, Woman, Woman’s Own, Fabulous, Good Living, Prima and Woman and Home.
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