With an excellent host, episodes full of joy and celebs performing tasks outside their comfort zones, why aren't more people talking about Celebs on the Farm?
In 2019, a back-to-basics reality TV show in which a group of celebs (not exclusively from other reality shows) go to live and work on a farm for up to 10 days shouldn't work and certainly shouldn't be a nightly TV highlight, but somehow it is.
That's down to a combination of the show not taking itself too seriously, a host who's very entertaining and clearly enjoying himself and celebs who have no qualms about getting stuck in, with even those who have been unlikeable or mis-represented in the past coming across well.
It's fair to say that this show is the natural successor to Channel 5's The Farm which began in 2004, ended in 2005, and saw a group of celebrities live and work on a farm. Despite only having a short run, the show produced one of reality television's most controversial and talked-about moments on British reality television ever - David Beckham's former assistant Rebecca Loos, (for want of a better word) wanking off a pig, which led to a number of complaints from viewers and charities including the RSPCA.
Now in its second series (plus a Celebs on the Ranch spinoff earlier this year) Celebs on the Farm is hosted by one of the country's finest new comedians and rising stars of television, 32-year-old Stephen Bailey from Manchester.
Struggling at times to contain his laughter or reign in his harmless flirting, it's his natural rapport with the celebrities and evident enjoyment of the show he's hosting which spills over to viewers at home, making him the perfect host for a show like this.
The things I've said in the past about his comedy are also true here - he's cheeky, charming and charismatic - three very important traits for a television presenter. So credit to Channel 5 for giving a hugely likeable guy like Stephen a much-deserved break. I for one am hoping that this leads him on to bigger and better things in the years to come.
Also back to cast his eye on how the celebrities are getting on and awarding 'Best in Show' rosettes along the way, is Farmer Chris Jeffery who ultimately decides who wins at the end of the series.
Those hoping to follow in the footsteps of last year's winner, former Strictly professional Gleb Savchenko, and claim victory are Love Island's Hayley Hughes, Ibiza Weekender's David Potts, TOWIE's James 'Arg' Argent and former Strictly professional Artem Chigvintsev. They join Shameless star Tina Malone, Benidorm's Crissy Rock, football pundit Paul Merson, model Caprice, Paralympian Kadeena Cox and current world Flyweight champion boxer Charlie Edwards.
So far the celebrities have had to muck out the cowshed, muck out a dirty duck pond, herd sheep, build a 100ft fence using only hand tools and create their very own 2020 calendar - which saw a rather too-enthusiastic Arg rush to take pics of Hayley Hughes. What would a certain GC say?
One of the reasons some people do reality television is for viewers to see a different side to them and for me, watching Celebs on the Farm has changed my opinions of a number of the celebrities, especially Tina Malone who came across as someone with great team spirit and a can-do attitude you'd assume she didn't have if her recent television appearances and tabloid headlines are anything to go by. In fact, when she was (spoiler) the first celebrity to be eliminated, I was genuinely gutted.
Another big surprise has been Love Island's Hayley Hughes who in 2018 surprised ITV2 viewers by seeming to know nothing about Brexit asking "Does that mean we won't have any trees?". But actually, Celebs on the Farm has proved that Hayley is far cleverer than that clip (which I suspect was poorly edited) from Love Island would suggest.
On paper you'd assume Hayley wouldn't want to muck in with some of the less glamorous tasks but in fact the opposite has been true, she has completely thrown herself into the experience which is what viewers want to see. And has also impressed Farmer Chris with her efforts which anyone who has seen the series before will know isn't an easy thing to achieve.
Quite why this show isn't getting the same level of attention that shows like Love Island and I'm A Celeb achieve with ease I'll never know. In this post-CBB world Celebs on the Farm seems like the show Channel 5 should really be getting behind. The line-up (apart from Caprice and Tina Malone) is certainly indicative of who we might have seen on Celebrity Big Brother if it was still around today and I’ve no doubt that this show appeals to a large part of that CBB audience, who are just sat there waiting for their favourite show to return.
Celebs on the Farm launched on Monday night to almost 500,000 viewers on the main channel but was sadly transported over to Channel 5's lesser-known digital channel 5STAR on Tuesday to complete its run, to a much smaller (but encouragingly growing) audience.
The move to 5STAR isn't representative on the ratings, it's a move which has always been planned and has been the same for previous series, but it would have been nice to see Channel 5 allow the show to continue to grow on the main channel every night and give it the best possible exposure. I suspect a large proportion of the audience who watched on Channel 5 on Monday will be surprised to find out that the series has continued on 5STAR and that we are now heading towards day six.
However it does feel like social media conversation is increasing each night and whenever I've tweeted about the show I've been met with responses from people who have also been enjoying the series, but those numbers are still much lower than they should be.
So if Celebs on the Farm has passed you by but sounds like the sort of show you'd love, then I'd urge you to find time this weekend to watch this light-hearted, feel-good reality show so that come Monday you're all caught up and ready for the second and final week.
Celebs on the Farm continues Monday to Friday at 10pm on 5STAR