“It’s beginning to feel like the good life really could be within my grasp”. These could well be the words of millions of urbanites across the globe, plotting to move out of pandemic-riddled cities to try out a mucky shoed, “ooh arr” life in the country. But whilst it may sound just like your pal Jules sat in a mood lit bar in zone 2, these words were in fact spoken by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall some 21 years ago, in the first ever episode of the River Cottage franchise. To your standard instagramming, Tik Tok dancing youth those two words probably mean absolutely nothing, but to telly fans of the nineties it sparks instant wholesome joy. Here at Must TV we have been escaping our very own urban lockdown by revisiting the first series, Escape to River Cottage, and dreaming of our own pig-breeding, pea-growing and pigeon pie-making. It doesn’t really matter if we ever actually make it out of Hackney Wick – the show is pure cottagecore joy. Admittedly some of the show’s lord of the manor back-slapping feels dated in places, but all things considered it’s remarkable how well it’s aged. The same can be said, dare we say it, of Hugh himself – game pie isn’t the only dish he’s serving, if you know what we mean.
Watch the first series for free on All 4 and then follow up its various other iterations. And if you start feeling a bit green fingered, and fancy a forage, the River Cottage cookery school has gone virtual! Now there’s a good way to find fun in furlough.
First shown March 1999.