John Craven reveals the main reason he thinks Countryfile is so popular

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

John Craven has said he thinks Countryfile’s regular Sunday time slot is largely the key to its popularity, as well as the programme’s lack of swearing and sex.

The 77-year-old presenter of the long-running show, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this July, has also said he is not thinking of retiring just yet.

The BBC’s rural affairs show previously aired on Sunday mornings, but around 10 years ago was bumped up to a prime-time slot.

Craven told the Radio Times magazine that he thinks the show’s success is down to when it is broadcast, adding: “After what’s probably been a busy weekend, it’s the ideal time to relax and spend a vicarious hour in the countryside.

“There will be sights to lift your heart and moments to cause you concern, but there will be no swearing, no questionable taste and no sex, unless it involves animals at a distance.

“When we transmitted on Sunday mornings we had an unexpected fan club among students slowly coming round after lively Saturday nights.

“We provided a gentle awakening, and one classic video on YouTube showed half-a-dozen of them sprawled bleary-eyed around their digs with me on the television chatting away in some idyllic setting.”

Asked if has any thoughts on how long he will carry on hosting the show, Craven said: “Not really.

“As long as I can walk up hills, think and speak clearly and still look forward to my days out on location I would love to keep on Countryfiling. But who knows?”

Countryfile (BBC Studios/Pete Dadds)

Craven, who joined Countryfile in 1989 after hosting Newsround for 17 years, said the programme “must have” shaped public opinion in some way, “even though the programme never takes sides”.

“We have always reported all aspects of a story and let viewers make up their minds from the evidence we show them,” he said.

“For example, during the long years of debate over fox hunting we gave equal time to the pros and antis, much to the annoyance of die-hard supporters of field sports who thought a countryside programme should be totally committed to their cause.

“The fact that for 52 weeks of the year we turn the spotlight on rural Britain surely has some impact, some positive trickle-down effect.

“Urban viewers will be wiser and country dwellers will, I hope, feel we represent them.”

Craven has also shared his delight that Countryfile Live, the programme’s accompanying event, will take place at Castle Howard in Yorkshire for the first time in 2019.

He said: “I was born, bred and began my career in Yorkshire so it’s brilliant that Countryfile Live will be heading there too next year.

“A beautiful county with so much to offer, Yorkshire is an ideal setting for this family fun day out.”

Countryfile Live, Castle Howard will run just two weeks in August after taking place at Blenheim Palace.

Executive editor Bill Lyons said: “With viewers of the programme based up and down the country, it has always been a hope of BBC Studios to share the experience of Countryfile Live in a different part of the UK.

“The team is very excited that the event will be taking place at two locations in 2019.”

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