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Kate Humble “I’m Happiest In My Wellies”

Kate Humble’s latest series allows her to get muddy again!


Intrepid TV presenter Kate Humble loves nothing more than getting stuck in to outdoor adventures. On TV we’ve seen her birthing lambs on LambingLiv­e, hanging out by volcanoes ( VolcanoLiv­e) and even swimming naked in OffThe BeatenTrac­k.

Kate revels in the outdoors – and yet she says the show that means most to her is her new series with a business theme. BacktotheL­and, currently showing on BBC2, sees Kate meet entreprene­urs who are setting up new businesses in a bid to make a country living viable.

Kate often becomes emotional on camera as she meets people trying to forge a new life in rural Britain.

“This series is particular­ly close to my heart, because I have been through a lot of what our contributo­rs are going through,” says Kate (49). “I feel connected to the subject because I have made the same mistakes and have shed as many tears setting up my business. I honestly think if you don’t cry, you haven’t got a business!”

Kate has done just what the contributo­rs are doing, setting up a rural business, Humble by Nature, in 2011. She and her husband, TV producer Ludo Graham, were looking to rent ten acres of land on which Kate could keep a permanent flock of sheep; instead, she explains ruefully, they ended up buying a 117-acre farm in Monmouthsh­ire to prevent the council selling it off for housing.

The land is farmed by tenant farmers and runs courses in lambing, bee keeping, and other country activities. But Kate faced a heartbreak­ing setback in late 2015 when the farm’s café and shop had to be closed after failing to make enough money to cover costs.

“It was devastatin­g,” recalls Kate. “I would wake up and say, ‘Today I’m not going to cry,’ and then I’d be in Waitrose and someone would say, ‘When’s the café reopening?’ and I’d be in floods,” recalls Kate with a wry smile. “So I’ve been through the mill with it, too.”

In BacktotheL­and Kate is meeting businesspe­ople at a crucial stage of expansion or upheaval – among them are a Cornish seaweed company, Droitwich Salt from the Midlands, a chilli farm in Gloucester, truffles from Wiltshire, wasabi grown in Hampshire and skyr [an Icelandic yogurt) made in Yorkshire.

Kate says she hopes the show strikes a blow for the image of country dwellers like her. “There’s an idea that everyone living in the countrysid­e is a bit of a yokel hanging by the gate chewing grass, when actually I’ve come across real pioneering spirit and innovation in the countrysid­e,” enthuses Kate.

On the flipside, the series gives fresh hope to those wishing to quit the rat race to enjoy a rural life and work for themselves. “After the first series last year, I heard from so many people saying, ‘Gosh, I want to do that!’”

Kate warns anyone contemplat­ing such a drastic move that it’s no easy ride.

“Yes, the show does give an element of people living the dream, but we wanted to show that it’s not just dreamy – starting a business and working off the land is really hard work and it requires skill and guts and sheer determinat­ion and often quite a lot of tears.

“These businesses are

“I have made the same mistakes…”

not fluffy hobbies – people are putting their lives and souls into them and they have to work.”

Kate remains one of our biggest proponents of countrysid­e living. In 2007 she and Ludo decamped from London to make their home in the Wye Valley, buying a farmhouse with four acres. They live there with an ever-growing menagerie, and Kate, who grew up in rural Berkshire, feels settled.

She’s happiest on camera in wellies and an anorak and resolutely turns down offers to “glam up”. She famously turned down an offer to appear on StrictlyCo­me Dancing and says that as quizmaster of BBC1’s animal-themed quiz show CuriousCre­atures, which returns later this spring, she grows impatient when her make-up is being applied.

“I’m permanentl­y in a bobble hat and covered in mud in this series of Backto theLand and couldn’t be happier,” she says.

And as she approaches her 50th birthday in December, Kate says she’s more comfortabl­e in her skin than ever. “I was crippled in my late teens and twenties by worrying ‘Am I wearing the wrong thing?’ and ‘Is my hair weird?’” says Kate. “And one of the lovely things about getting older is you don’t care as much. You grow into yourself. I’m really comfortabl­e with being the scruffy one!”

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 ??  ?? With husband Ludo There are laughs along the way
With husband Ludo There are laughs along the way
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