Tom Heap on how he avoids ‘temptation’ of responding to ‘galling’ Countryfile criticism

Countryfile: Tom Heap discusses increase in UK fly tipping

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Tom Heap, 55, will be back on screens today in the latest edition of Countryfile on BBC One. The presenter and journalist has spoken to about his time on the show and his new podcast 39 Ways To Save The Planet. During the chat, he explained how he tries to avoid the “temptation” of interacting with critics on social media.

Tom has been a regular on Countryfile ever since he first joined the show back in 2012.

The series is a huge hit for the BBC and averages around six million viewers per episode, making it the UK’s most popular weekly factual show.

However, given its popularity with viewers, many fans find themselves getting heavily invested in the stories covered.

And while most react positively to this, there are the occasional negative comments about what has been featured on social media.

Tom has opened up about how he tries to not take this to heart and keep everything in perspective.

When asked if he ever finds it tempting to engage with critical comments on Twitter, he said: “I think tempting is probably the right word but it’s a temptation I largely resist.

“It’s not a place where you can really conduct debate. You know I do read some things.

“The one thing I will say I find slightly galling is when social media tries to give the BBC lessons on balance.

“I’m not saying we’re always perfect at the BBC, but I think we get a damn sight closer on balance than many comments on social media.”

He also explained how those criticising the show are generally in the minority of the viewers.

Tom continued: “The other thing I remember, and it’s important to remember, is that a good episode of Countryfile, like the one I did the other day, had I think six million viewers. That is a lot.

“If I look currently at something that’s trending within Twitter on my Twitter sphere, it’s getting one or two thousand.

“Millions of people are watching Countryfile and there are hundreds of thousands or even tens of them getting animated about something in the programme.

“So you’ve just got to try and maintain that level of perspective.”


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Outside of his role on Countryfile, Tom is also working on a podcast series with BBC Radio 4 all about climate change.

Entitled 39 Ways To Save The Planet, the series features Tom exploring some practical ways people are combating global warming.

Each podcast is accompanied by a video episode looking at different initiatives, from robots that can maintain offshore wind farms to how underwater seagrass meadows can reduce carbon.

For Tom, the aim of the series is all about stepping away from the doom and gloom to look instead at what has already been achieved.

He said: “It’s a real passion project. I have been working in climate and Rural Affairs broadcasting for really the last 20 years since 2000.

“I was in journalism before that, but I started specialising in this area.

“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 are the solutions out there, the narrative of what is being done and what needs to be done.”

He went on to add how this is what his podcast series is all about, offering another side to the narrative.

Tom continued: “[The podcast] is more of the narrative for redemption, this is the solution 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.”

There are already 13 episodes for viewers to listen to on BBC iPlayer and more will be coming in April.

Countryfile airs on BBC One today at 6pm.

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