No one need remind Richard Abidin Breen, aka Abz from 5ive, that fame is a fickle mistress. He found success with the Nineties boyband before falling on hard times after they split and now, in Country Strife: Abz on the Farm, it seems a star has been (re)born.
BBC2 isn’t usually associated with reality television, but it was immediately obvious why commissioners had made this exception. In a three-part series Abz and his partner Vicky Fallon follow their dream to set up a self-sufficient small-holding in rural Wales and he comes off as a beguiling mix of Tom from The Good Life and Ali G; that is, a total hippie at heart, who is finally throwing off his urban shackles in an attempt to reconnect with nature.
Is this a spoof? Probably not, although plenty of the grizzled country types who Abz and Vicky encountered seemed unsure. The couple were both just so ludicrously unprepared for the task at hand. Yet what they lacked in financial nous, agricultural experience and basic common sense, they made up for with abundant enthusiasm. On a visit to the Lamas ecovillage in Pembrokeshire, Abz was so overcome with emotion he launched into this Wordsworthian reverie: “Everything just feels happy here. Birds are, like, just constantly singing a nice, like, theme. They’re, like, orchestrated just for this moment, it feels like. Know what I’m saying?”