The BEST episodes directed by Stuart Elliott

September
star
8.11
275 votes

#1 - September

Edwardian Farm - Season 1 - Episode 1

In September they begin with the basics. They set up home in one of the cottages, where the first task - after cleaning - is unblocking the chimney so they can get the range working in order to cook. They prepare for the arrival of their first livestock - a flock of sheep and a ram called Cyril, and Ruth cheers up the cottage by making a rug out of rags. And she cooks her first meal on the range - a sheep's head stew. Alex builds a hay rick to store feed for the animals over winter; while Peter heads to Bodmin moor to carve a stone feeding trough. And they must plant crops. The high acidity of the soil makes it infertile for growing crops, so the top priority is neutralising the acid with fertilizer - and for this they must make deadly quicklime. They will need literally tonnes of the stuff. It is a hazardous and gruelling - but essential - job.

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Episode 6
star
8.02
45 votes

#2 - Episode 6

Wartime Farm - Season 1 - Episode 6

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.

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August
star
8.02
127 votes

#3 - August

Edwardian Farm - Season 1 - Episode 12

August brings the climax of the farming year - and the end of 12 months on the Edwardian Farm for archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn and historian Ruth Goodman. The team must harvest their oat crop, but everything depends on the weather. Constant rain is making the job impossible. It is crucial to be able to predict when a dry spell will come so that they can be prepared to swing into action. They investigate ways of forecasting the weather and embark on creating a weather vane. Peter tries his hand at the art of repousse to make a copper cockerel for the vane, and the team heads for the woods to do a traditional charcoal burn in order to smelt iron for the compass points. When the rain finally clears, the team deploy the latest in Edwardian farming technology for the oat harvest - including a tractor that was then state-of-the art, the 'Moghul'. And the event is captured by an Edwardian film crew - tapping into the very latest in Edwardian fads: the cinema. To celebrate the end of harvest, the whole town enjoys a grand fete sporting new innovations such as the electric light bulb, the latest threshing machines, the petrol-powered Lister engine and a genuine flying machine. The Edwardian era ended with an event that changed the countryside forever - the First World War. Michael Morpurgo, author of the play War Horse, comes to the farm to give Alex, Ruth and Peter an insight into the consequences. Although the human cost was dreadful, the growth of mechanization meant many rural areas had labour to spare. But over a million horses were also drafted into service - and only 60,000 came back - paving the way for tractors to finally replace horse-power. Farming would never be the same again.

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Episode 8
star
7.98
101 votes

#4 - Episode 8

Wartime Farm - Season 1 - Episode 8

The team face the conditions of 1945 and prepare to harvest the wheat crop following one of the wettest summers in memory. Even as the conflict drew to a close, the need for home-grown food became greater than ever. With Britain sharing the responsibility for feeding populations across war-torn Europe while struggling to afford imports, and American aid no longer available, 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.

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Episode 5
star
7.98
42 votes

#5 - Episode 5

Wartime Farm - Season 1 - Episode 5

The Wartime Farm team tackles the conditions faced by British farmers in 1942, when Hitler's U-boats continued to attack British ships, slashing imports and inflicting massive shortages on the country. Ruth finds out how Britain coped with shortages of the wood vital for the war effort in the building of aircraft, ships and rifles, as well as pit props for crucial coal mining. With her daughter Eve, she travels to the New Forest and discovers how women known as 'Lumber Jills' were drafted in to fell trees in the Women's Timber Corps. Meanwhile, Peter and Alex face up to the wartime petrol crisis. Peter embarks on an ambitious plan to convert a 1930s ambulance to run on coal gas. Alex experiences the conditions faced by the Bevin Boys - conscripts who were sent to coal mines instead of the armed forces because the need for coal was so great. Having converted the ambulance and collected the coal to run it, Peter faces the question: will it work? Also in this episode, the boys revert to a Victorian solution to the shortage of animal feed - using traditional horsepower to operate a root slicer - whilst Ruth sets up an Emergency Feeding Centre. Subsidized by the government to provide cheap food off ration for air raid victims, these 'British Restaurants', as Churchill dubbed them, quickly caught on. Eating out had traditionally been the preserve of the upper class and most ordinary people had never eaten in public before - many even felt embarrassed at the prospect. The 'British Restaurants', envisaged as a short-term response to food shortages, made a lasting change to the nation - introducing the concept of high street dining for the masses.

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October
star
7.87
216 votes

#6 - October

Edwardian Farm - Season 1 - Episode 2

In October, the Edwardian farmers branch out into new ventures like market gardening, all-year-round egg production and beef cattle. After acquiring a beef herd, the team bring in a bull. They also begin training the shire horses for a year of work in the fields. And they take on a pair of goats who prove to be more than a handful at milking time. Morwellham Quay's market gardens were once one of the nation's largest producers of strawberries, until abandoned half a century ago. Now the team attempt to bring them back to life. Cider was a vital part of the Edwardian rural economy, so Alex and Peter attempt to follow in this tradition by making it on an industrial scale - using an Edwardian cider press and a ton of apples. Ruth preserves supplies for the winter: she pickles apples, salts a ham and smokes bacon. Peter visits a cooper and learns how to make a barrel, and Alex launches a chicken enterprise. Finally they see in the winter with Halloween - Edwardian style.

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January
star
7.56
186 votes

#7 - January

Edwardian Farm - Season 1 - Episode 5

Archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn go down a copper mine, just a few hundred yards from their cottage, which was once the major source of Morwellham Quay's wealth. In the 19th century the largest deposit of copper in Europe was discovered in Devon. And the mining industry made Morwellham the busiest inland port in Britain. In the latter half of the century rising costs and cheap foreign imports put the copper mining industry into decline. But resourceful Devon farmers found other ways to extract income from copper - such as 'fossicking' (literally scavenging by breaking up rocks overground) and building precipitation tanks which extracted copper deposits from the water which flowed out of the mines. Meanwhile, historian Ruth Goodman learns the art of lacemaking, visiting the town of Honiton which became world famous for its lace, renowned for its beauty, delicacy and intricacy. Once half the inhabitants of east Devon were lacemakers. The boys also go tin mining in Cornwall, an industry which survived until the end of the 20th century when the last mine closed in 1998. But it's a gruelling trade, full of risks. They drill blast holes by hand and get to grips with tools such as the grimly nicknamed 'the widow-maker'.

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April
star
7.27
213 votes

#8 - April

Edwardian Farm - Season 1 - Episode 8

It is April and the fishing season has arrived - a time when Devon's 'fisherman-farmers' went to sea. Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn go to sea in an Edwardian trawler, hastily finishing repairs before setting sail. They master the singing of sea shanties as well as steering a wind-powered vessel and casting a net the old-fashioned way - but will they catch any fish? Women were considered bad luck at sea, so Ruth Goodman stays ashore. She forages on the sea shore and prepares potted shrimp. She also builds a smoke-house and smokes some mackerel. Peter and Alex drive their herd of cattle along a dangerous drove road to find new pasture and prepare for the birth of the herd's first calf. Alex makes a coracle that Peter tests out on the pond; and Ruth explores one of the growing fashions of the Edwardian era by holding a séance.

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July
star
7.22
183 votes

#9 - July

Edwardian Farm - Season 1 - Episode 11

It's July and the team face their busiest month so far on the farm. It's time to bring in the cherry harvest with the help of their Dartmoor pony Laddy, and enjoy a cherry feast to celebrate. Historian Ruth Goodman tries her hand at salmon netting, while archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn take drastic measures to save their potato crop from being destroyed by blight. Alex goes to an Edwardian school room - complete with Edwardian discipline - to recruit a traditional rural source of cheap labour: children. Ruth learns how to make a bathing suit out of wool, and there is a rare opportunity for a day away from the farm, as the team go on a church outing to the seaside.

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Episode 2
star
7.12
78 votes

#10 - Episode 2

Wartime Farm - Season 1 - Episode 2

The team tackle the conditions faced by British farmers in 1940, when the full impact of rationing took hold and which also saw Britain face the onslaught of Nazi bombing in the Blitz. Ruth finds out how about the impact rationing had in the kitchen as food became strictly limited - and also explores the temptations of the black market. Alex and Peter are confronted with vastly reduced supplies of feed for the animals, so attempt a method encouraged by the government: making "silage". This involves not only finding alternatives sources of feed to store for winter, but also creating a container to store them in. And for this they find out how the Women's Land Army could be of help. Along they way, they also discover how racial prejudice reared its ugly head during Land Girl recruitment - only to be overcome by the actions of a local farmer. Ruth goes on a canning drive - gathering fruit to preserve and donate to the war effort - with the local Women's Institute.

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A Day in the Life (February)
star
7.06
213 votes

#11 - A Day in the Life (February)

Edwardian Farm - Season 1 - Episode 6

It is February and archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn and historian Ruth Goodman approach the half way point in their year on the Edwardian Farm. To mark the occasion this episode explores one single day in a typical Edwardian farmer's life. Incorporating a remarkable cache of letters written in the 1900s in a cottage at Morwhellham Quay, 'A Day in the Life' reveals the hidden stories of how ordinary rural Edwardians got by. We see how Edwardians prepared for the day when they got up in the morning - from struggling into a corset and Edwardian hair-styling to shaving and what they used to brush their teeth. Through the day we follow the team's routine - managing the animals; re-stocking the feed-store; tending the land; caring for an injured goose that's been attacked by a fox; going shopping; receiving a visit from an eccentric travelling salesman; and a football match against the Plymouth Argyle legends played under strict Edwardian rules - which means no off-side, no red or yellow cards, and wearing very, very heavy boots. And in between, of course, there's breakfast, lunch, dinner and a visit to the local pub to round-off the day.

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Episode 1
star
6.90
141 votes

#12 - Episode 1

Wartime Farm - Season 1 - Episode 1

The first episode finds the farmers in a new location, a new time period and with a new team member. There is a farmhouse to modernise, strict new rules to abide by and air raid precautions to contend with. The team begin by reclaiming badlands to grow new crops. Peter works with a blacksmith to design a special 'mole plough' to help drain the waterlogged clay fields. Ruth and Alex get to grips with a troublesome wartime tractor - and must plough through the night to get the wheat crop sown in time. On top of farmers' herculean efforts to double food production, their detailed knowledge of the landscape also made them ideal recruits for one of the war's most secret organisations - the 'Auxiliary Units', a British resistance force trained to use guerrilla tactics against German invasion.

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Episode 1
star
6.83
75 votes

#13 - Episode 1

Tudor Monastery Farm - Season 1 - Episode 1

Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold run a farm exactly as it would have been in 1500.

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Episode 4
star
6.70
73 votes

#14 - Episode 4

Wartime Farm - Season 1 - Episode 4

The team discovers that Wartime Farmers could lose everything - their home and their land - if the government did not think they were productive enough. Over 2,000 farmers deemed 'not good enough' were thrown off their farms during the war. Ruth, Peter and Alex face a World War Two-style government inspection, meeting an expert who tells them to grow and to get their milking operation up and running. In the process they confront the wave of mechanisation that government regulation brought to wartime farming, grappling with a new tractor and getting to grips with a milking machine. Yet they are dealt a bitter blow with the loss of a prime dairy cow. Peter also launches a rabbit-breeding concern and they take in the latest release from the Ministry of Information, who made films urging farmers to use the very latest techniques in the fields. The team also discovers the chilling story of a local farmer who lost his life in a dramatic shoot-out with the police after the authorities tried to remove him from his farm for failing to meet his required targets. With their hard work completed the inspector returns to judge the state of the farm and award them their all-important official 'grade' - determining whether their efforts have been a success or a failure.

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Episode 7
star
6.65
69 votes

#15 - Episode 7

Wartime Farm - Season 1 - Episode 7

The team face the farming conditions of 1944 when Britain had been at war for five years and millions of troops packed into the fields of southern England as the Allies prepared for the D-Day landings. Farmers did their bit by growing vast amounts of flax but the wettest summer for a century has devastated the crop at the farm, and Alex and Peter must take drastic action to save it. 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 racing pigeons were trained to carry intelligence to and from occupied France. As D-Day drew closer, foreign troops formed close bonds with the locals, drinking together and playing games, such as the baseball game Americans played at the farm in 1944, which the team recreates.

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Episode 3
star
6.64
70 votes

#16 - Episode 3

Wartime Farm - Season 1 - Episode 3

The team attempt to tackle the conditions faced by British farmers in late 1940, as the heavy bombing of the Blitz destroyed Britain's cities and drove millions to seek refuge in the countryside. Alex and Peter have to work in the freezing cold to turn inhabitable outbuildings into refugee shelters. They also are taught how to set up 'decoy fires' to distract German bombers. Ruth becomes involved with the Royal Observer Corps.

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