Tune in, switch off - Hooked on farm frolics
The happy couple, at a wedding I attended last spring, met in a truly bizarre way. The bride's mother saw the groom-to-be on a reality TV programme and then just happened to recognise him in her local high street the next day. "You'd be perfect for my daughter," she declared, or words to that effect. So from reality to fairytale: they met, married and lived happily ever after. Well, for six months so far. And now Farmer Wants a Wife (Five) is back for a new series.
It's the agricultural version of internet dating, love on a farm by artificial dissemination, and goes like this. Our farmer ploughs his lonely furrow for fifteen hours every day with not a woman in sight. It could be a tragic Hardy novel with only one character. Then, just when he thinks he might have to do something to meet the opposite sex, like get a hobby or join a club, four flighty females drop in all together.
Farmer Derek told presenter Louise Redknapp (a footballer's, rather than a farmer's wife, left) he was so romantic that he expected to fall in love at first sight. Women tried to win him over with flirtatious flounces and saucy suggestions. Derek sized them up as if considering the purchase of his next prize bull. "It's a job to handle her," he whispered. "Been anywhere nice, then?" he offered as his best chat-up line. No wonder it's been lonely on the farm.
The first cull came when he had to dispatch two suitors back to civilisation and keep two, like farm pets, on trial for the week. Part of their prize was sharing the same bed - but without Derek. And they both got high on a tour of the farm when treated to a ride in a hot air balloon.
This was love at first sight for all three. And though dithering Derek eventually chose the wrong girl, the other one forgave him and returned to the nest.
Fortunately, such biological urges were fully explained in The Living Body, (More4) - and all at break-neck speed. Look: out popped a baby and then whoosh, courtesy of computer graphics, we were speeding back up inside the fallopian tubes. It was as psychedelically colourful as a Beatles film. When the budget bites and I can no longer afford science teachers, this will keep Year 9 going until their GCSEs.
We learnt that the world is noisy, bright and smelly for babies. It is for me too. We each have more cells than in the whole of the Milky Way. And we get the equivalent of a new body every 10 years. Well, I'd like my new one next week. But, unlike Derek, I'll stick with my pick on the wife scene.
Ray Tarleton is principal of South Dartmoor Community College in Ashburton, Devon.