Real-life Suffolk dairy farmer inspires 'Archers' plotline
PUBLISHED: 11:23 20 September 2018 | UPDATED: 11:39 20 September 2018
Fen Farm Dairy
A Suffolk dairy farmer said he was "really chuffed" after his cheese-making story provided the inspiration for a plot in the popular BBC Radio 4 soap, The Archers.
Jonathan Crickmore, of Fen Farm, Bungay, decided to buy in Montbéliarde cows to improve the quality of his raw milk brie, thought to be the only one made commercially in the UK.
He decided to diversify into selling raw milk from his farm, and making his own celebrated Baron Bigod cheese and butter some years ago to help bolster the business against milk price volatility.
He was approached a few months ago by Sarah Swaddling, an agricultural adviser from the series, keen to know about the continental breed and the milk he produced, as well as the human story behind it.
“I was surprised at the amount of detail she asked,” he admitted. “It seems funny, but they wanted to know all the details because they like to do their research properly so it’s accurate.”
He added: “It feels really nice the fact you do something a little bit different and people find out about you.” The soap storyline, which involves the farmer buying Montbeliardes to produce a quality raw milk blue cheese, is now being aired.
Jonathan, who admits he doesn’t follow The Archers but has family members who do, said: “We are really chuffed that we have got this link to The Archers. There isn’t really anyone else who’s done what we’ve done.”
The writer who talked to him had obviously done her research on him, he said.
“She asked about the cows themselves, what their temperament was like - she just wanted the story of what we did.”
Jonny said he had already had people contact him to point out what they thought was a coincidence.
“Everyone will be thinking we copied The Archers,” he said, although the opposite was the truth. “They just wanted to copy what we had already done.”
Jonny was asked to keep the conversation with the script writer under his hat until the story was broadcast.
“It’s all a bit fun really,” he said. “I was asked not to talk about it for spoiler alerts until it aired.”
The Montbéliarde is a breed of red pied dairy cattle from the area of Montbéliard, in eastern France. It is used mainly for dairying and particularly in cheesemaking.