Kaleb Cooper is the unlikely star of Clarkson’s Farm, but what does he really think of his disastrous boss, Jeremy Clarkson?
- In his new book, Cooper explores weird and wonderful rural customs in the UK
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Some time ago in a bygone era we could label ‘Before Clarkson’, Kaleb Cooper recalls a television director mentioning a management change at the Oxfordshire farm where he worked.
‘He asked how I felt about Jeremy Clarkson taking over and running it himself,’ he says. ‘I said, “It’s not going to happen.”’ He pauses. ‘And now here we are…’
Indeed, the rest is history. Four years later, 25-year-old Kaleb is half of perhaps the best-loved – and certainly the most novel – double act on TV, thanks to his role on Clarkson’s Farm, the Amazon Prime series that has followed the former Top Gear presenter’s often disastrous attempts to run his 1,000-acre farm.
Kaleb, who worked for the farm’s previous manager before Jeremy took over operations in 2019, came along for the ride. His deadpan gags and witty observations have made him a star in his own right.
From his thoughts on sheep (‘suicidal morons’) to his take on Clarkson (‘there are two types of farming, unless you count whatever it is Jeremy thinks he’s doing’), he has proved to be the beating heart of the show.
Kaleb Cooper, 25, from Chipping Norton, worked for the farm’s previous manager before Jeremy Clarkson took over operations in 2019
Given his unique take on the world, it was no surprise publishers came running. Last year Kaleb wrote his first book – the first he’d ever read, he confides.
The World According To Kaleb was an immediate bestseller, and a year on he’s written another, taking himself out of his comfort zone in the process.
Born and bred in Chipping Norton, Kaleb ventured rather further afield to investigate rural customs in the UK.
Britain According To Kaleb: The Wonderful World Of Country Life is a whistle-stop tour of traditions from Wife Carrying Championships in Dorking to cheese rolling in Gloucestershire, where Kaleb saw a remarkable sight.
‘Halfway down, this American woman knocked herself out, but came around at the bottom and someone whispered in her ear, “You’ve won the race.” She started cheering,’ he says. ‘Madness!’
But fans need not worry – Kaleb isn’t leaving the small screen any time soon.
There were rumours Amazon wouldn’t recommission the show in the wake of the widely criticised newspaper column Clarkson wrote about Meghan Markle last December. Happily, it was confirmed a new series is in the offing.
Kaleb is tight-lipped on behind-the-scenes secrets, but he does reveal that new animals will join the show. ‘I don’t want to admit it, but we’ve got pigs now, and Jeremy’s actually good at pig farming,’ he says.
In some ways it makes little difference to Kaleb whether the TV cameras are there or not.
‘I’m still sat on my tractor doing my day job,’ he says. ‘It doesn’t change what I’m doing.’
This, of course, is key to the show’s success. ‘Everything that you see is real. As soon as you start writing scripts it wouldn’t work. So the arguments you see, that’s all just how it is.’
Kaleb shares a joke with Jeremy on the show. While they sometimes bicker on Clarkson’s Farm, the pair get on famously
Ah yes, the arguments. There’s no shortage of them, and insults are frequently exchanged (Clarkson calling Kaleb a ‘rural half-wit’, Kaleb in turn labelling him a ‘f***ing idiot’ was one of their choicer exchanges).
‘We argue and then we won’t talk for two days, but after that we’re fine. Someone says, “Do you want a cup of tea?” We never get offended really and we don’t bear grudges. He takes everything on the chin.’
In truth, the pair get on famously. ‘We’re really good friends,’ says Kaleb. ‘We go to the pub. We go to concerts. He took me to my first ever Who concert the other day.’
Kaleb’s next project is a bursary he’s set up with the Royal Agricultural University for those looking to begin a career in agriculture.
It suggests he’s made a bit of money from his time in the public eye, although he’s far too sensible to start flashing the cash.
‘My dream is to buy my own farm’, he says. ‘So everything goes towards that. I want to wake up in the morning and say, “I’m going to plant wheat in that field, because it’s my farm.”’
It’s a dream that’s been renewed since the birth of his children Oscar, two, and four-month-old Willa with his partner Taya. ‘My other half is absolutely amazing,’ he says. ‘She keeps everything going.’
What does Taya make of him becoming a celebrity and – whisper it – a bit of a heart-throb? ‘I don’t know about that,’ he laughs.
‘As soon as someone has the celebrity name on their head it changes who they are a bit, but I’m still the same person sat on a tractor doing the job I love.’
As for his final word, is Kaleb prepared to admit the man he’s dubbed ‘the fossil’ has learned a thing or two under his tutelage? It turns out, he is. ‘He’s got a little knowledge now, but that’s dangerous, isn’t it?’ he adds.
‘In the nicest possible way it would be easier for everybody if Jeremy just b*****ed off back to London, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. For better or for worse, he loves the farming life.’
- Britain According To Kaleb (Quercus) is out now in hardback (£20), ebook and audio. For Kaleb’s Live Tour 2024 see kaleblive.com.
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