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Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn face up to the challenges of the biggest revolution ever seen in the history of the British countryside as they turn Manor Farm back tohow it was run in the Second World War. When Britain entered the war, two-thirds of all Britain's food was imported - and now it was under threat from a Nazi blockade. To save Britain from starvation, the nation's farmers were tasked with doubling food production in what Churchill called 'the frontline of freedom'. This meant ploughing up 6.5 million acres of unused land - a combined area bigger than the whole of Wales.

Genres: History | Lifestyle
Station: BBC Two (UK)
Rating: 0/10 from 0 users
Status: Ended
Start: 2012-09-06

Wartime Farm Air Dates


S01E06 - Episode 6 Air Date: 10 October 2012 23:00 -

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The Wartime Farm team tackle the conditions faced by British farmers in 1943, when food imports slumped to their lowest level during the war. The government feared a crisis and after four long years at war,Britain's farmers were challenged with somehow increasing food production yet again. There were renewed shortages of animal feed so Alex and Peter resort to producing a hay crop from grass in the church yard and use some clever 1940s technology to get the job done.

With tasks mounting up on the farm, the team turn to a popular source of additional wartime labour - children. Children's harvest camps were set up by the Ministry of Agriculture to release kids from school during periods of urgent need on farms, and over 70,000 pupils took part, paid six pence an hour to avoid accusations of exploitation. Ruth enlists eager child labour to collect herbs that were desperately needed by the pharmaceutical industry to make medicines during the war. But once the job's done, she has to feed them.

A rat catcher helps Alex deal with the farm's rodent problem, a job which usually fell to Land Girls. It is estimated that rats destroyed two million tons of crops during the war, costing the country £60 million a year. Alex also tries his hand at making a much needed sugar substitute - honey.

Ruth discovers the methods women used to look good despite the restrictions of rationing. After making a new dress from old flour sacks, she gets a makeover from a pair of wartime hair and beauty experts. While Peter is getting to grips with a vintage hay baling machine, Ruth and Alex attend a party at the village hall, where they experience a new dance phenomenon brought to Britain by African-American GIs, the jive.


S01E07 - Episode 7 Air Date: 17 October 2012 23:00 -

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The team face the farming conditions of 1944, when Britain had been at war for five long years and the fields surrounding Manor Farm filled up with thousands of troops as the Allies assembled the largest navaltask force in history for the D-Day landings.

Farmers did their bit by growing vast amounts of flax, which was used to make parachute webbing, fighter aircraft fuselages, tents and ropes, with production in Britain increasing from 1,000 acres to 60,000. But the wettest summer for a century has devastated the crop at Manor Farm, and if Alex and Peter are to save it they must take drastic action.

This wasn't the only way farmers helped the D-Day preparations. Racing pigeons were requisitioned by the military to carry vital intelligence to and from occupied France. Ruth revives the traditional craft of basket making to create a pigeon transporter while Alex and Peter head out into the English Channel to find out how birds were trained for their long missions.

The war brought farmers face to face with the military as never before, and artist Leo Stevenson follows in the footsteps of the war artists commissioned by the government to capture the wartime landscape on canvas.

As D-Day drew ever closer, 3.5 million troops packed into southern England. Foreign troops formed close bonds with the locals, drinking together and playing games. The team recreate a baseball game that the Americans played here in 1944 and conclude that the villages of Britain had never been so vibrant.


S01E08 - Episode 8 Air Date: 24 October 2012 23:00 -

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The team face the conditions of 1945 and prepare to tackle the most crucial event of their farming year: harvesting the wheat crop. They grapple with weeds, one of the wettest summers in memory and wartime machinery to bring the crop home, but take a giant leap into the modern era with the arrival of a 1940s combined harvester.

As ever, on the wartime farm the goalposts are constantly moving. The team discover that as the conflict drew to a close, the need for home-grown food became greater than ever. Exploring countryside memories of VE Day, they discover how pressure on farmers increased throughout the final dramatic year of conflict.

Victory in Europe meant that Britain had to share the responsibility for feeding populations across the war-torn continent whose food supplies had been devastated. On top of that, as soon as the war ended, American aid stopped. The financial cost of war left Britain bankrupt and struggling to afford imports, leading to a burden on farmers that remained long after the war finished. Rationing lasted well into the 1950s.

As a fitting send off, the team celebrate the harvest with a 'Holiday at Home' - inspired by a government scheme to encourage exhausted workers to make the most of time off without travelling anywhere. Alex has a surprise up his sleeve to make the party go with a bang, as the team prepare to leave the Wartime Farm.


S01E09 - Wartime Farm At Christmas Air Date: 18 December 2012 20:00 -

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Wartime Farm Actors

Ruth Goodman(Historian)

Alex Langlands(Archaeologist)

Peter Ginn(Archaeologist)



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