A boyband rapper who calls himself Abz Love moving to the country to become a farmer and filming the whole thing for a ‘reality’ show? Sounds like just another of those self-consciously ‘larger than life’ celebrity self-parodies, right?
But actually Country Strife: Abz on the Farm ends up feeling very genuine – and is really rather sweet with it.
The now ex-5ive star is based in Barry when the new BBC2 series begins, but he’s eager to escape the bright lights and live The Good Life with his partner Vicky and their brood of dogs in rural Wales.
“Awh man, I love the wilderness” he gushes, “I love the outback. You’ve just got space.”
And his enthusiasm for the wild isn’t at all dampened by his lack of knowledge about what life in the country is really like. It’s dangerous, says fiancé Vicky, discussing farm machinery and accidents.
“I’ve had issues in the house with a hoover that have been very dangerous”, replies an endearingly earnest Abz.
That’s just the first of an endless array of ridiculous one liners that might initally leave you wondering if Country Strife is indeed a glorified spoof. Stick with it, though, and you’ll soon realize that there’s more to this little series than meets the eye.
Abz really does want to make a go of country living – and he isn’t adverse to getting his hands dirty and doing a bit of work to make both his and Vicky’s dreams come true.
“She’s my Sharon Osbourne,” he smiles. And as you watch her rein him in you can’t help but think that isn’t such a ludicrous statement.
Abz and Vicky have the potential to be a memorable documentary double act, oozing likeability from their perfectly preened pores. Their naivety about country life is genuinely adorable and their determination to keep on movin’ no matter what is admirable.
Especially when the dogs try to tear into the new family cockerel. Can you hear the drums, Fernando? Here’s hoping he’ll make it all the way to the end of the series.
5ive fans won’t be disappointed either: there’s even a little insight into Abz’s days and nights on the road with the band – Country Strife was filmed in 2013, before he announced he’d left the group.
So, is Country Strife: Abz on The Farm your run-of-the-mill moneymaking ‘celeb’ reality series?
I, for one, don’t think so. It’s actually a pretty heartfelt look at a young couple’s efforts to get back to basics and make the most of what they have. Good luck to them – and especially to Fernando…
Country Strife: Abz on The Farm airs on BBC2 on Sunday nights at 9:45pm from Sunday 16th August