What’s really going on inside the Yorkshire Farm marriage?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·7-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Amanda and Clive Owen with their children outside Ravenseat Farm - Channel 5
Amanda and Clive Owen with their children outside Ravenseat Farm - Channel 5

They’ve been dubbed the ‘Kardashians of the Countryside’ but rumours Amanda Owen and her husband Clive – stars of hit Channel 5 show Our Yorkshire Farm – may separate have proved more shocking than reports of any of the Kardashians’ own divorces.

This week, tabloids have frothed with speculation about the state of the Owen’s 21-year marriage, with rumours that the couple – who have nine children, aged 4 to 20, together – are living apart, and claims that Clive, who “adores” Amanda, is “desperate” to save the marriage he fears is heading for divorce.

Suggestions the Owens’ relationship is faltering couldn’t come at a worse time, given Amanda’s publication this week of Celebrating The Seasons With The Yorkshire Shepherdess – a book built around her family life. The Owens’ representatives flatly deny claims the couple are separating, putting rumours down to village gossip and Amanda’s frequent work trips. “They are not splitting up and divorce has never been mentioned,” a representative insisted to me.

Yet a joint statement released by the couple on Wednesday – in which they confess enduring a “rocky patch” – was less clear-cut, explaining: “With the TV show and the books we’ve always aimed to show the reality of life on the farm, and just like any marriage we have our stresses and strains, coupled with all the complexities of what we do on the farm and bringing up nine kids. We’re a normal family, and we’ve never said our marriage is perfect.”

So, what is really going on, on the farm?

Watch: This London Hotel does private shopping at Harrods and Bentley excursions to the English Countryside

If you want to understand the clamouring interest in whether one couple from Yorkshire are breaking up, you have to understand the appeal of the brand the Owens have built, and how a leftfield TV show about a remote 2,000-acre sheep farm that started in 2018 became such a runaway hit that every episode now attracts almost four million viewers, making it the most watched factual TV show in Channel 5’s 9pm slot.

The answer lies somewhere in the show’s combination of wholesome down-to-earth family life, and the irresistible attraction of Amanda herself, a vibrant no-nonsense glamazonian powerhouse with a can-do attitude, who I interviewed on her remote Dales farm last year.

I confess, driving to meet her, I was cynical about this former model turned TV farmer. I left in awe of her. A fearless woman, who’d turned her dream of becoming a shepherdess, fostered in the Huddersfield semi where she grew up, into a reality. Farming 1,000 sheep alongside raising nine children – Raven, 20, Reuben, 17, Miles, 15, Edith, 12, Violet, 10, Sydney, nine, Annas, seven, Clemmy, five and Nancy, four – hadn’t been Amanda’s original plan, but in chaos she thrives: writing books and filming Our Yorkshire Farm alongside herding her flock and giving birth in lay-bys.

When I asked Amanda what she wanted people to take from the show she said it was “not be scared of taking a bit of a leap of faith into the dark, challenging yourself”.

Amanda: a vibrant no-nonsense glamazonian powerhouse with a can-do attitude - Bruce Adams
Amanda: a vibrant no-nonsense glamazonian powerhouse with a can-do attitude - Bruce Adams

Amanda has fulfilled a country dream that, during lockdown especially, many of us craved. Yet the show’s appeal isn’t in rose-tinting country life, but its unflinching honesty about it in a PC world, which Amanda claims mollycoddles children. On Our Yorkshire Farm we watch her brood get stuck into the dangerous and cruel reality of farming: fixing tractors, rounding up herds in blizzards, skinning lambs and pulling dead ewes from rivers.

During the pandemic, watching the show wasn’t just for rural escapism but an inspiring example of how the Owens pulled together as a family to overcome challenges. All of which is what makes suggestions the family might separate so depressing.

On the surface, Amanda and Clive’s relationship has the makings of an old-fashioned romance. Amanda was 21 when she arrived at Ravenseat – the farm where the show is set – on a cold October night, sent by her then-boss from another farm to borrow a ram from Clive, then 42, divorced and living alone.

He was immediately attracted to her: “This six-foot something woman knocked at the door – I was very taken with her. You couldn’t not be.” Four years later they married.

In Tales From the Farm, the fourth of her five books, Amanda wrote how, on Valentine’s Days, Clive feeds his sheep so they gather in a heart shape she can see from a nearby hill. Asked in a recent interview whether they still fancy each other Amanda replied: “Oh God! What kind of a question is that? But yes. I think he does, me. In fact, I know that.”

Yet, when I met them together, it was impossible not to notice how different they are. Clive is a camera-shy, monosyllabic Northerner; Amanda, a glamorous, outgoing, chatterbox, her bubbly exuberance matched only by his reticence.

She met me fashionably dressed in dangly earrings, an off-the-shoulder black top and a denim mini-skirt, and sat nattering away for almost two hours before Clive turned up at the end of our interview, somewhat scruffy, shortly answering a handful of questions. Behind-the-scenes people tell me Clive has always disliked media attention, with Amanda, who has 409,000 Instagram followers and almost 179,000 Twitter followers, admitting: “He hates social media and the online news stuff and doesn’t want to be on it.”

While Amanda regularly travels for work – currently, a three-month nationwide theatre tour – Clive is such a home-body that when I met them he’d still never been to London.

Yet a “close family friend” told The Sun on Tuesday that Clive “reckons the image of them playing happy families is a load of rubbish. He thinks this will be the last series they film together, and now it’s about looking after the kids and putting them first. He wants them to stay together for Christmas and then, unfortunately for him, the decision is very much in Amanda’s hands. He will do as he’s told.”

There are claims Amanda is now living away from the family home. When I visited, the family was sprawled between two houses – Ravenseat, the farm featured on TV, which the Owens rent, and The Firs, a beautiful 17th century farmhouse nearby, which the couple bought and run as a holiday let. One source close to the couple claims it’s this set-up which has – incorrectly – fuelled local rumours the Owens live apart.

Behind the scenes, other family problems swirl. Clive’s daughter Rosie, 34, the youngest of two children from his first marriage, has spoken about how her relationship with her father deteriorated so much after he met Amanda that she has stopped visiting Ravenseat, her childhood home, and cannot watch Our Yorkshire Farm without crying. “Millions tune in to see this idyllic farm on the TV but they don’t know the heartache behind it.”, she told The Sun only this month.

The claims that Clive has said this series of Our Yorkshire Farm will be his last have led to suggestions the show may now end – or at least not continue in its current format, rumours that Amanda’s representative and Channel 5 both declined to comment on.

With estimates Amanda has amassed £1 million from her varied revenue streams, if a separation did come about, she could certainly be self-sufficient. Although when we met she hinted at one problem, telling me that because Ravenseat is leased to Clive, not her, if anything happened to him she may no longer be able to carry on farming there. Does this explain why she recently bought another property: derelict farm, Anty-Johns, in Upper Swaledale?

Whatever happens next for the couple, no doubt we will all be watching.

Watch: How the French countryside inspired artist David Hockney

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting