The saying goes that farmers are at the mercy of the weather gods. But for Scottish farmer and star of BBC2’s Love in the Countryside, Christine, it seems she experienced a case of divine intervention.
“Quite strangely, I had a dream about being on TV, about a month before an email about this show came through,” she explains. “When I saw the email, I was like, ‘Ah, I have to do this! This is what I have to do!’”
Christine, 32, is one of eight rural daters starring in the new show Love in the Countryside, presented by farmer’s daughter and Radio 2 DJ Sara Cox, which aims to help members of the agricultural community find their soulmates, setting them up on a series of blind dates.
Many of the contestants cite their isolated lifestyle as a primary reason for why they’re still single. But for Christine, that isolation is even more acute. She has single-handedly run the 250-acre family farm in Dumfries and Galloway since January last year, when her father died. Before that, she’d been working as an embryologist in Edinburgh, but moved home in November 2016 when her father’s health deteriorated.
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“Someone needed to look after him, but my brother isn’t really interested in farming – whereas I have always had an interest,” she tells me. “When I was small I always used to go out with my dad. If you ever wanted to find me I’d be somewhere outside with animals or with my dad, watching what he was doing.”
Christine was determined that the family wouldn’t sell up. “I had to come home and try and make a go of it,” she says.
She’s solely responsible for around 160 cattle and 30 sheep, which can be stressful. During our interview Christine adds that she’s been busy calving cows over the past couple of weeks. A potential partner, she says, would have to understand that running a farm can be all-consuming: “They don’t necessarily have to want to be involved in a farm, but they have to be able to understand that it’s a really tiring lifestyle.”
Christine, who’s been single for over seven years, understands that she’s a relatively rare breed. “You don’t come across single female farmers everyday. There will be few of them out there,” she says.
Caring for her father and adjusting to her new life on the farm have prevented Christine from dating over the past couple of years, and she found the show’s speed dating process intimidating at first. In the first episode of Love in the Countryside, Christine, after seeming initially unimpressed by her potential suitors, has an emotional moment: “I didn’t have any sort of idea I was going to feel like that or get upset.”
You can watch a clip of Christine here:
However, she’s looking forward to watching the show, although she’s “quite apprehensive” about seeing herself on TV – particularly when she’s out of her comfort zone.
“It’s quite a phenomenon to have to dress up,” she says. “I literally spend my days in jeans and hoody, and usually covered in some sort of horrendous substance!”
Still, after a rough couple of years, she’s proud of herself. “Trying to put myself out there after being hurt was quite a big step,” she says. “Yeah, it was quite a big thing for me to do.”
Love in the Countryside airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC2