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Customer Review

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far more than just farming: top-notch TV, 10 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Tudor Monastery Farm [DVD] (DVD)
After so many successful Farm series, you might have thought there was little left in agricultural history to sustain another six hours of documentaries. But it turns out that the early Tudor era is jammed with fascinating farming techniques and practices - perhaps all the more interesting because they are now so distant.
Tudor Monastery Farm continues the series' high standards: it's intelligent and informative factual TV which is also entertaining and good-natured. No fights or bickering but plenty of expert insight into ancient techniques and disappearing crafts.

Presenter Ruth Goodman in particular seems to thrive in this era; she tackles even the most repulsive household tasks with relish and chatters away, explaining the social, scientific or religious background. Her eel fishing expedition was priceless (and neatly demonstrated all kinds of lost arts, including how the eel traps are made and have different names all over the country). Peter Ginn is an excellent guide through the industrial and agricultural aspects; he always looks totally exhausted yet remains cheerily upbeat when washing a sheep before shearing (the sheep looked worse after its wash than before), or ploughing a field with unruly oxen, or building a blast-furnace out of half a forest. Newcomer Tom Pinfold is the weakest link, and seemed to bring little expertise to the situation - nice guy, but struggled to fill the gap left by Alex from previous series.
Where TMF really succeeded for me was in demonstrating the massive power of the church at that time. No wonder Henry VIII dismantled it; the church seemed to be massively influential in daily life, more like the government today. The segment about mining and refining lead (a brilliant episode in which we learn about 'white coal' among other things) demonstrated just how wealthy the church was at that time.
So setting this series on the cusp of great change, just before disestablishment *and* at the onset of industrialisation works brilliantly. TMF captures a moment of British rural history which changed radically in the following century and is almost unrecognisable today. yet so many of our customs and traditions stem from these old ways. It's fascinating. And who knew that you could 'harvest' yeast by leaving a bowl of flour and water overnight in a field? Brilliant.

Sometimes the play-acting is a bit over the top for my tastes - especially the festivals of merrye olde Englande. But I really appreciate the contributions of the guest experts (many members of the Goodman family!) who bring treasured lifelong skills and experience to life.
A superb series for all ages.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Jan 2014 11:55:34 GMT
P. G. Croft says:
Excellent review---I concurr on all aspects raised. I did wonder at Alex Langlands absense. But, as usual with the BBC, when leading well liked people go missing, and are replaced without warning or explanation, I recently read that Alex was studying for a major qualification, to add to his already impressive background. If there are other series ( farming in the 1950's ?) I hope Alex is back, because he and Peter had a wonderful rappour with mutual jokey overtones. P G Croft

Posted on 19 Jan 2014 22:37:57 GMT
I must disagree with the view that Tom is in anyway a "weak link" - the trio of Ruth, Peter and Tom worked just as well as Ruth, Peter and Alex in previous series. Otherwise, I think Rowena's review is fair, although I would give the series 10/10. Let us hope that the next series will be a quartet. (Ruth, Peter, Alex and Tom)

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jan 2014 23:08:36 GMT
Last edited by the author on 19 Jan 2014 23:11:35 GMT
P. G. Croft says:
Mr, S Blighton-Sande---I must disagree with your implied assertion, that Tom Pinfold was NOT in anyway less successful as a presenter than Alex Langlands. Not only did Alex and Peter have a long friendship going back to University days, they had also worked together on many Archeology projects, as well as in every 'Farm' series . Their 'best buds' banter, and mock rivalry was noticably absent in the 'Tudor' series. As the 'New-boy', Tom did well and knew his stuff ( he is also a fully qualified Archeologist/historian). Having said that---there are many highly qualified people, but not all of them can communicate their knowledge in the public arena. P G Croft UK.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jan 2014 18:35:15 GMT
Bookfriend says:
Thanks to Rowena for a great overview of the series.
I enjoyed it hugely, as I have all the "Farm" series of programmes. Fascinating to see how things were done back then!
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Review Details



Rowena Hoseason

Location: Kernow, Great Britain

Top Reviewer Ranking: 37