THE show might be called Clarkson’s Farm but one man nearly managed to outshine the star attraction.
Farmer Kaleb Cooper’s expletive-laden berating of his boss Jeremy Clarkson has made him a celebrity not only in Chipping Norton, but worldwide.
Local David Cameron was left starstruck when he bumped into the 23-year-old — even if Kaleb didn’t recognise the former Prime Minister.
In an exclusive chat with The Sun, Kaleb said: “The other day when I was in Chippy, I got out the truck and David Cameron, I didn’t realise at the time, was next to me. He was like, ‘Oh another local celebrity’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’ve got to go’.
“I walked straight past. I went, ‘Hang on a minute, that was David Cameron’. I said to Jeremy, ‘I think I met David Cameron. Does he drive a pick-up?’ ‘Yeah’. ‘Oh I met David Cameron and didn’t realise it’. So they all laughed at that. I don’t follow the news and I don’t watch TV, so I wouldn’t really know.”
Fans of The Sun’s columnist Jeremy are used to seeing him abused by co-stars Richard Hammond and James May on TV hits Top Gear and The Grand Tour.
With Amazon Prime Video’s Clarkson’s Farm, not only are the stakes higher with Jeremy trying to get to grips with agriculture at his Cotswolds business — Diddly Squat Farm — but the insults are more expletive.
The petrolhead is told off regularly, whether it’s for buying a Lamborghini tractor that’s too big or shelling out on non-profitable sheep.
‘He doesn’t listen’
Kaleb, who is young enough to be Jeremy’s son, tells him his crop drilling, which should be in neat rows, is as “straight as a roundabout” and another time that he has “fed up”.
He is one of a number of workers on the farm, including Jeremy’s girlfriend Lisa Hogan, red tape-obsessed adviser Charlie Ireland and wall repairer Gerald Cooper, who he cannot understand a word of.
Kaleb, who completed a three-year course at Moreton Morrell agricultural college in Warwickshire, said: “The way I think about it, I know about farming and he’s learning, therefore I’m the boss. “When he says, ‘We’re gonna do this’, I’m like, ‘No, we’re not going to do that because that won’t work’.
“He doesn’t listen. I don’t get intimidated by him. I just treat him like a normal person. We have a laugh. But when he annoys me, he really annoys me. I get angry.”
As someone who grew up watching Jeremy on Top Gear and more recently The Grand Tour — as well as being an avid reader of his columns in The Sun — this is baffling.
Kaleb said: “Sometimes when someone’s powerful and a celebrity, people go, ‘OK, yeah, I can do that, yeah’. “But I’m very different to that.” I ask Kaleb how he can hurl such insults at someone who others would find so intimidating. He said: “That’s normal for me. People keep saying, ‘How do you say that to Jeremy?’ Well he did f up. I have to tell him. And the only way to get him to acknowledge that he has is shouting at him.”
Despite being only 23, Kaleb has the confidence of a more mature person. This may be because he has always been a grafter. At 13, he set up a business buying three chickens and selling the eggs.
He revealed: “I thought, ‘I’m going to sell the eggs locally, it’s going to be wicked. I will make a little bit of money and then do more’. About two months in, I had 450 chickens and I had an egg round on a Saturday, where I would walk to people’s houses. It was all old ladies . . . ‘Come in and have a cup of tea’. It would take me about eight hours to deliver six eggs.”
Jeremy has lived on the farm for several years. But because he was busy with broadcasting, a local farmer, with the aid of Kaleb, cultivated the land.
When the farmer retired, Jeremy decided to step in. That was in September 2019. The year ahead would be known as the worst 12 months for British farmers, with torrential rain, dry summers, Brexit and Covid.
Due to his farming duties, Kaleb didn’t know much about Jeremy. He said: “I don’t watch a lot of TV. I’m normally out until ten o’clock then I go home to bed. I’ve heard of him because he’s a local celebrity.
"But when I started working there, I didn’t realise it was his farm until he come out one day and I was like, ‘All right?’ He goes: ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Well, I’m spraying’. ‘Well, I live here’.”
In fact, the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? host probably knew about the young man who would drive by his home “too fast”. At this, Kaleb insisted: “I never did, I was doing about 5kmph, but he moaned a lot about it.”
Then Jeremy took over the running of the farm and was keen for Kaleb to help. He admits being involved in the show felt a little odd at first. He said: “I thought, ‘This is strange. I’m a farmer, what’s this about?’.”
There was apprehension, not just in Chippy but in the agricultural community, when word got out Jeremy was making a show about farming.
Kaleb said: “I’m like, ‘Oh God, I hope this isn’t like a Grand Tour-type thing where everything goes wrong.”
‘I’ll probably go mullet’
But the programme has turned out to be a love letter to farmers, featuring beautiful scenery, adorable animals and endearing characters.
Kaleb said: “Everyone in Chipping Norton loves it. Jeremy is like Marmite — you either love or loathe him. And even the people who don’t like him are coming up to me and going, ‘Actually, it’s changed my view of him’, and they love him now.
“They love the whole show. It’s changed everyone’s mind on everything he does. The farmers love it.” As do Amazon Prime subscribers — awarding it five stars — while on movie website IMDb it gets a colossal rating of 9.3 out of ten.
It has made a star out of Kaleb, partly thanks to his idiosyncrasies. Viewers were in stitches when he revealed to Jeremy how he was trying to have as many hairstyles as possible in quick succession — including a perm, top knot and long, flowing locks.
Kaleb said: “My dad, bless him, he’s not got a lot of hair and I’m like, ‘OK, I might not have a lot of hair soon, so I’m going to try every hairstyle before I go bald’. When I get to the end I’ll go, ‘Right, whichever one I like I’ll stick with’. I love curly hair.”
In our Zoom chat he is sporting longer hair and teased: “This is just waiting for the hairdresser on the 28th. I’m having a perm back. Then I’ll probably go mullet.”
Kaleb admitted on the series that he had only left Chippy once — to go to London on a school trip — and stayed on the coach. His second foray into the capital was for the show, as he tried to sell Jeremy’s homegrown wasabi plants to posh city restaurants.
He said: “I was scared to go to London. I drove there, my palms were sweaty. I’m walking around London and I wasn’t really myself and I try talking to a few locals and they just walk past me.
“I’m like, ‘OK, maybe don’t do that again’. In Chippy, I can wave to anyone and they wave back. It’s like they know you, they’re your best mates.
“In London, no one wants to speak to you. They just ignore you or beep their horn at you.”
In an impassioned speech about the Cotswolds, he said: “The countryside is the best place to be in my preference. I love the rolling hills and lovely views.
"I’m sat on a tractor going up and down the field, and instead of looking at an office desk, I’m looking at the hills, the sunset, the sunrise — they’re the things that stay in your head all year round.
Mobbed by fans
“You sit down, have a drink, look out into the distance and you’ve got the hills. You go, ‘This is amazing. Why would I want to change this?’”
When I point out that a lot of people would pay good money for a holiday like that, he replied: “I don’t just get a week of it, I get it all the time.”
Despite his newfound fame, Kaleb won’t be leaving the town any time soon, as his girlfriend Taya, 23, gave birth to their son Oscar in March.
He said: “The day he was born I worked the Sunday, so I was like 36 hours going through the night and then I come home, had two hours’ sleep and went back to work pretty much, so I didn’t really stop. But my other half is so amazing, she’s a natural.”
If they get married, will he venture out of Chippy for the big day or the honeymoon? No chance. Kaleb said he would have it “in a barn or something like that”, adding: “Put some bales round and you have a few drinks or something.”
But to celebrate his 23rd birthday, he made a rare trip to his local Cineworld in nearby Witney last weekend, for a night screening of Fast & Furious 9. But when the lights went up, Kaleb had to hide in the cinema loo after he was mobbed by fans. So have his fame and 181,000 Instagram followers now changed him?
He said: “I was already quite famous in Chipping Norton. People knew me, I’m a local farmer. I was born there, everyone knows my family — my mum’s a dog groomer and my dad’s a carpenter.
“Walking through the street, I need three hours now to speak to everyone and be nice. I’m not rude and just walk past. I have to stop and talk to them. Instagram has gone crazy, which is amazing because my DMs are full of people who ask for advice or say how good I am.”
And when asked if more reality TV beckoned, he said: “I wouldn’t mind I’m A Celebrity. I think I’d be quite good at that. I’m not scared of a lot of things.” Least of all Jeremy.
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