BBC Countryfile viewers 'switch off' after 'depressing' Devon episode

The latest episode of Countryfile was dedicated to Mental Health Awareness Week - and many fans weren't impressed
The latest episode of Countryfile was dedicated to Mental Health Awareness Week - and many fans weren't impressed -Credit:Countryfile/BBC

Long-running BBC show, Countryfile, has once again faced backlash from viewers who blasted a recent episode as 'depressing' - and said they have been left switching off due to a lack of farming content.

The latest episode of the countryside documentary show, which has been running for over 35 years, aired on Sunday, May 12 - and was dedicated to mental wellbeing and the countryside, ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week this week.

Presenters Sean Fletcher and Margherita Taylor discussed how spending more time outdoors can boost both your physical and mental well-being, with the pair visiting the 550 acres of woodland, gardens, meadows and rivers, at meditation and mindfulness centre, The Sharpham Trust, in Totnes, south Devon.

In one segment of the BBC show, Margherita explored how working in the garden at the charity has helped to relieve the effects of stress burnout, as she met a group of inspirational young women who found relief and respite by being surrounded by woodland nature.

Introducing the episode, Margherita said: "It's wild woodland and meadows, tended gardens, and the calm of the river here that are all geared to supporting people's mental health and wellbeing."

And Sean added: "Spending time outdoors and bringing nature into your everyday life can help with your physical and mental health."

Meanwhile, farmer and author, Adam Henson, shared the importance of farmers discussing their mental health challenges to help the wider agricultural community. He also very bravely, and heartbreakingly, opened up about the sudden death of his good friend, and the pressure farmers come across in their everyday line of work, reports the Daily Express.

But while some viewers praised the show for demonstrating how time outdoors can have a positive impact on mental health, others did not enjoy the switch from the show's usual, light-hearted farming content, and felt it did not focus enough on agriculture specifically.

And others found it "depressing" - while several agreed that Clarkson's Farm is a "better" show, with more than one person on X (formerly Twitter) noting that the Amazon Prime series "has done more to highlight how difficult farming is than 30+ years of BBC Countryfile".

One X user posted: "Countryfile is depressing tonight. Feel really low now.", while another agreed: "Depressing watching for a Sunday night."

And a third wrote: "Has Countryfile become a Mental Health programme? Hardly anything to do with the countryside. It seems to promote 'poor' mental health. They just bandy around phrases they've heard. Just get on with it."

Meanwhile, someone else commented: "I stopped watching BBC Countryfile a couple of years ago when I considered serious issues were becoming sidelined." Another simply said: "I switched off."

It is not the first time this year that the BBC series has faced criticism from fans over a lack of relevant farming and agricultural content, according to the MailOnline.

Back in March, a segment of the show examined the struggles faced by people living in the countryside when it comes to accessing NHS dentists - with many complaining this was not 'suitable' for a wildlife and farming programme.

And just weeks later, those tuning in were left questioning, "Is this Top Gear?", when presenters Anita Rani and Matt Baker were seen enjoying a countryside drive through some of the more challenging and winding roads in the Lake District.

However, the BBC has pointed out that Countryfile covers a "wide range of rural affairs issues affecting rural areas and communities", and went on to note that "previously the programme has produced diverse films, including shortfalls in Special Education Needs provision, and the difficulties recruiting Midwifery staff in rural areas."

And some viewers praised the show for highlighting important issues. One said: "'Countryfile talking confidently about male mental health and suicide prevention. If Countryfile can do it then we all can at least try to as well."

"Great feature with those with their feet on the ground on the pressure farmers are under and the mental health issues #Countryfile," another added.

Another person who praised the show said: "Wow, the lady explaining Mindfulness on Countryfile right now is spot on!"

"I'm enjoying this mindfulness episode of #Countryfile," wrote another viewer.