Tom Heap on how Countryfile ‘changes’ left him working in his garden ‘Quite challenging!’

Countryfile: Tom Heap discusses natural world education

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Tom Heap, 55, is well-known as one of the hosts of Countryfile on the BBC each week. In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, the presenter opened up about how Covid-19 has left him working from home in an innovative way, as well as how fans can listen to his new podcast, 39 Ways to Save the Planet.

Countryfile fans may have noticed Tom has had a bit of a change of scenery in recent episodes.

The presenter explained this was all down to the changes put in place during the ongoing pandemic.

He said: “One of the intriguing things in the last year, which anyone who watches Countryfile regularly may have noticed, is that my own garden here at home has become a Zoom studio.

“I’ve lost count of the number of interviews we’ve done from the garden as travel has been restricted, so whilst we’ll still try and get out to one or two actual locations, we know we can’t do the level of travel that we did before.

“So some interviews are done by Zoom and they always want them to look as good as possible.

“And you know that’s quite challenging with a Zoom call – it isn’t necessarily the most Hollywood, high production value thing you could imagine.”

Tom also opened up about how restrictions have impacted filming the much-loved show.

He explained: “In recent months we’ve had almost a complete ban on overnight stays, and a strong encouragement that you should try and do things relatively close to where you live.

“So the presenters have been working a little bit closer to their home patch.

“We’ve tried to be responsible while still keeping up an interesting and entertaining view.”

The presenter added how he is quite lucky to have a beautiful garden to use for the segments, but it means there can be some unexpected guests making it into the show.

He continued: “I’m lucky enough to have a reasonable view here and certainly last summer the garden was looking pretty nice.

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“So it was, it was quite well rinsed as a Zoom studio, and even the cat got a role at one point in a speaking role, she had a ‘meow’ that was actually broadcast.”

As well as his role on Countryfile, Tom has also been working on a climate change podcast called 39 Ways to Save the Planet.

In each episode, the BBC Radio 4 show focuses on different ways people have come up with tackling climate change.

The aim of the series is to try and present a more positive side to the battle against global warming, drawing on Tom’s 20 years of reporting on it.

He explained: “Increasingly, in the last few years, I felt that we were covering the undoubted problem, the urgency and importance of climate change pretty well.

“But what we’re not talking about was were the solutions out there, the narrative of what is being done and what needs to be done.

“[The podcast] is more of the narrative for redemption, this is the solutions to climate change – how are we going to get out of this mess and who’s already doing the right thing.

“And so, I felt very strongly that it was important to tell people, the wider audience, more about what was going on to solve this crisis.”

So far, the episodes have featured things like robots that can maintain offshore wind farms and how wood may be a far more sustainable material than steel and concrete.

Each outing is also accompanied by a short programme, which people can catch on BBC iPlayer now.

Tom added: “[People] need something that’s much more interesting to them.

“It’s not even really about what you can do in your everyday life, some of it covers that but it’s not all about that, because I again that’s just slightly another way of making people feel guilty.”

New episodes of the series will be made available in April and fans can catch up on those already aired on BBC iPlayer now.

Countryfile airs on BBC One today at 6pm.

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