Subject: ‘Granada Media – Television series – Sustainability’.
My near fifteen minutes began with that very subject line. It was a casting call for an Australian host to the new series River Cottage Australia. You can probably imagine the delight and fear of receiving such a request. I’d been a huge fan of the British TV show from my time at Old Mill Road.

While there wasn’t a TV connection on the farm there was however the entire back catalogue of the River Cottage DVD series along with most of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s publications. Between us we all carried a strong love for the program and here I was with an email requesting that I give some background on myself for the potential of hosting the Australian program. This was a big deal.

After a few emails and a chat with production about a recent killing of my French Faverolles for a Coq au Vin dinner party, they asked me to put forward an audition video. The results are featured above.

To make the video I figured it was worth doing right, so I got my good friend Shaun Garland on board to help make it happen. You probably wouldn’t pick it, but it was three full days of filming and editing to get the result you’ve just watched.

We had an absolute blast making the video and we both came away thinking that we might be in the running for the program. We both agreed that the host would have the sway to bring in a producer, so we were essentially a fantasy host and production unit all inclusive. How could they refuse?

I remember the trip back to Sydney both Shaun and I were starting to identify potential advertising relationships we could align for the show.
‘I really like the work of those guys at Patagonia. Do you think they’ll give us a couple of wetsuits if we feature them on the show?’

After the initial warm reception that we received for the video it was a long wait before I heard back from them. A few months later I was told the production team had settled on a short list of six people and I was on the list. I was asked to come meet up with the team in Sydney for a half-day shoot.

Jesus! What a gong show that was. I only wish I had the footage of the day to share. I’m yet to have seen it, but I pitty those who not only had to watch it but I give my sincerest apologies for those who were involved in the making.

Looking back on the day I have visions of seismic embarrassment. On one occasion I tried to include each member of the production team into a jamming air music set. Each member of my band were required to jam out on their air drum/bass/guitar in my attempt to raise the mood of the room from a deathly silence which was consuming my mood between each take.

The team was incredible and pushed me to the limit, there was so much determination in the room to get my best. At one point I said
‘I think the guy you’re looking for is Tim Bayley on a triple shot espresso’.

I gave it my darnedest and at times I could have sworn I was yelling at the camera for the sake of being the lively host. After half a day the life was sucked out of me and I was ready to go back to my simple yet contradictory life of web designer come farming hack.

It was a fun little episode in my life and from the snippets I’ve seen of the program they made a fine choice with Paul West. A big thanks to Shaun and Fraser for your help on the video, and for the guys at ITV Studios for their committed day.

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