Tom Heap: Countryfile presenter addresses ‘scaled back’ version of BBC show

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Tom Heap, 54, is a firm fixture on Countryfile alongside Matt Baker, Ellie Harrison, Adam Henson and Anita Rani among other famous faces. The presenter has fronted the BBC programme throughout lockdown, overcoming many challenges.

The investigative journalist has now spoken candidly about filming the show, addressing the “scaled back” instalments going out to fans.

During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Tom explained he would cover his BBC segments from his back garden.

He said the team were keen and focused on keeping the same Countryfile “feel”.

It comes as the hit programme was forced to make a series of changes following the pandemic, which included still travelling to remote locations.

Tom explained: “From quite early on I was able to still travel with respect to security and social distancing.

“We scaled back on the teams on Countryfile and we scaled back the number of places we were visiting. It was usually only one.

“Whereas on a normal filming day – before coronavirus – it would have been four.”

He continued: “So we scaled back that but we still wanted to give the audience a feeling that we were telling them a story about where the food came from and how robust the food chain was.

“We tended to do one actual location and then as viewers would have seen, my garden kind of turned into a Zoom studio.”

Tom added: “While a lot of people had a lot of their bookcases showing near the back of their Zoom call, I’ve had the garden beautifully tended by my wife.”

Speaking about his other half’s show debut, the small-screen star admitted his spouse Tammany Robin Stone expressed her “reluctance”, amid a “fleeting” appearance.

The couple wed in 1992, but has remained relatively tight-lipped on his family life.

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“She did [Countryfile] once, somewhat reluctantly she’s telling me over her shoulder,” Tom remarked.

“We did a story about fishing focusing on the impact of fishing supplies and the restaurants being shut down.

“This was illustrated by a little BBQ in the back garden where my wife and number three son made an appearance. A fleeting appearance I must say.”

Tom spoke of how the family cat Plum was also a regular fixture on Countryfile during the nationwide lockdown.

“The cat has made more of an appearance,” the presenter chuckled.

“She’s called Plum and she even got a speaking role at one point when [the cat] miaowed.

“She’s been on the programme maybe three or four times.”

Tom added: “Countryfile viewers love an animal, be it a cow or a tabby cat.”

Countryfile airs tonight on BBC One at 5.20pm.

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