Society confident Countryside Live deal will send farm message wider

(L-R) Skeldale Veterinary Centre's Julian Norton and Peter Wright, co-stars of hit Channel 5 series, The Yorkshire Vet. Picture: The Yorkshire Vet/Channel 5.
(L-R) Skeldale Veterinary Centre's Julian Norton and Peter Wright, co-stars of hit Channel 5 series, The Yorkshire Vet. Picture: The Yorkshire Vet/Channel 5.

Countryside Live’s new partnership with a television channel is not about making money but is all about seizing a golden opportunity to promote understanding of farming and the countryside to a far wider audience, the chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society has said.

Nigel Pulling told The Yorkshire Post that the new link up with Channel 5 to host ‘The Yorkshire Vet at Countryside Live’ at the Society’s Harrogate showground was about a coming together of two entities with well-matched values.

Aston Potter-Firth taking part in the Mountain Moorland Rein class at last year's Countryside Live in Harrogate.

Aston Potter-Firth taking part in the Mountain Moorland Rein class at last year's Countryside Live in Harrogate.

The Society confirmed at the start of the week that the co-stars of the channel’s hit series, Thirsk-based veterinarians Peter Wright and Country Week columnist Julian Norton, will be the headline attractions in what constitutes a high-profile rebrand of its annual autumn showcase event.

Countryside Live returns on October 21-22 for what will be the 15th year of an event considered to be the little sister of the Great Yorkshire Show.

Yorkshire vets headline new look Countryside Live

Julian Norton: From tending to Mitsy to joining a legend

The attendance had plateaued at around 12,000 so we are hoping this will increase that and we get the message out to a wider audience.

Nigel Pulling, chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society

Mr Pulling said the partnership with The Yorkshire Vet is a good fit and that the proceeds generated from the event to further the Society’s charitable activities would not be affected.

“What they stand for is a very good match for what we do. It’s a very Yorkshire link and we are promoting very similar ideals.

“Our objective is to promote farming and the countryside and if we can work with the Yorkshire Vet to increase the exposure, it’s all good.

“Channel 5 is obviously a commercial entity but we have twin aims and we shouldn’t be worse off, but we aren’t doing this to make money. We are doing it to get our message across to a wider audience.”

Nigel Pulling, chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

Nigel Pulling, chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

Mr Pulling said no element of Countryside Live that had made it so popular had been “sacrificed” to accommodate Channel 5.

“The content of this year’s show will have all the Countryside Live elements we have built up over the last 14 years but this gives us wider exposure, particularly on the television, so we expect more people to turn up.

“The attendance had plateaued at around 12,000 so we are hoping this will increase that and we get the message out to a wider audience.

“We are certainly expecting a lot more people. They have a very strong fan base so people will travel to be here. We can accommodate 50,000 people here on any given day of the Great Yorkshire Show. That’s the beauty of it; we have the car parking and all the facilities, so we have the opportunity for the two to fit together pretty well.”

Young sheep farmers at the 2016 show. All the usual competition classes will be returning at this year's event on October 21-22.

Young sheep farmers at the 2016 show. All the usual competition classes will be returning at this year's event on October 21-22.

Explaining how the partnership with Channel 5 came about, Mr Pulling said: “The whole thing came about as a bit of a fluke. I happened to meet Paul Stead (The Yorkshire Vet’s co-executive producer) and the vets were looking to build on the success of the TV show. At the same time, we were looking to build on the success of Countryside Live.

“We had Julian and Peter at the Great Yorkshire Show and they were really popular and that gave us added momentum.”

EXTENDED SHOW LINE UP

Among the new features at the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s autumn show will be live Yorkshire Vet shows in the main ring.

Julian Norton and Peter Wright will host question and answer sessions in the main arena where fans of the show will have the chance to meet the pair and ask any questions.

There will be an expanded children’s section including Channel 5’s Milkshake Live show and pop up country pub, as well as special guests.

Visitors can also get close up to farm animals and browse retail stalls, while organisers promise to showcase the very best of both Yorkshire’s and the UK’s food and drink.

Advance tickets go on sale on Friday, September 1, priced £7 for children and £14 for adults. Advance family tickets, for two adults and up to three children, are £40. Prices on the gate will be more expensive.

Yorkshire vets headline new look Countryside Live

Julian Norton: From tending to Mitsy to joining a legend