What he stole from Jamie Oliver, his secret talent and his favourite places in East Anglia - Jimmy Doherty tells all

Jimmy Doherty Photo: Nick Ilott

Jimmy Doherty Photo: Nick Ilott - Credit: Archant

Suffolk based farmer and TV presenter Jimmy Doherty, previously on the BBC and now on Channel 4, is a proud father to four little ones and owner of Jimmy’s Farm in Ipswich, which houses 300 rare breed pigs, a working farm, wildlife park, adventure play, and butchery. Childhood friends with Jamie Oliver, Jimmy caught up with Gina Long MBE to talk about hypnotising chickens, his favourite East Anglian spots and how to do a full English right.

Jimmy's farm helped put Suffolk on the map
Photo: Nick Ilott

Jimmy's farm helped put Suffolk on the map Photo: Nick Ilott - Credit: Archant

What is your link to East Anglia?

I grew up in rural Essex. I've always been connected with East Anglia. My grandmother was from the Sudbury area before she married and moved to London, so I've always had an affinity with it.

What's your East Anglian heaven?

If I was to think of food… it would be having fish and chips on the beach. Probably Aldeburgh beach with the kids and dogs running around. A bag of warm chips - God, that's something so typically British, no? If you go to Norfolk, go to Cromer… it's just a dream.

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What's your East Anglian hell?

The caravans. It's a real dichotomy. People are coming in and spending money, so great for the economy. But when you're picking the kids up on a bank holiday Friday it's a little… ah!

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Favourite East Anglian restaurant?

Two come to mind. Locally, Riverside and The Unruly Pig in Woodbridge are great. The Riverside has a cinema attached to it. It's a gentrified way of watching cinema. I love the idea of grabbing a bottle of wine and going to watch a film. Also Morston Hall in Norfolk! You can never go wrong with Morston Hall.

What's your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?

At any of our coastlines or rivers. The beautiful changing light. A nice cold beer like an Adnams in hand, and a big bowl of local mussels. There's something about being near the coastline and eating the best things it has to offer.

What's your favourite East Anglian landmark?

Orwell bridge is quite iconic. I've crossed many bridges in my time - I've travelled all over the world. But there is something quite nice about it. Not to forget, The House in the Clouds at Thorpeness, ideally with a fireman's pole!

What's the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?

Of course, there are so many fantastic festivals, but my favourite has to be 'Shakespeare in our Forest' - it reminds me of the good old days when I studied Macbeth in school. It's absolutely fantastic, and the fact it's in the open is amazing. It makes you feel small - I feel like you need that in life. Also, there are always amazing exhibitions in Suffolk's beautiful stately homes, so you have a pick of the bunch really.

What's your specialist Mastermind subject?

Probably Dad's Army or something to do with insects.

What's always in your fridge?

Always in the fridge… butter, milk, always cheese! If you have a bowl of animal fat in your fridge, you can't go wrong. Remember, it's the processed stuff that's bad for you.

Your simple philosophy of life?

Always be positive because tomorrow is another day. Enjoy what you have right now because it takes time.

What's your favourite film?

That's a difficult one! I watch a lot of films on airplanes. Let's go with an old classic - A Bridge Too Far or Indiana Jones - it takes me right back.

What was your first job?

I was 10 years old, Ian Redmile and I used to go around the village and wash cars for £1.50. For £3 we'd wax it too, although only one side, as we never had enough time!

What is your most treasured possession?

My great grandfather's discharge papers from the First World War. He was discharged because of his wounds. He eventually died from his wounds when he got back. It represents a moment in time and connects me to something.

Who do you admire most?

Billy Connolly - one of life's greatest storytellers. It's about being yourself I suppose.

What is your biggest indulgence?

Going on holiday - plus eating and drinking too much.

What do you like about yourself most?

I like that I'm social. I enjoy people's company - I love a gathering and a party.

What's your worst character trait?

I can be a little OCD and that drives me insane. Like a light bulb being the wrong shape, or the dishwasher not done properly. I like order.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

Oh, Sri Lanka! I've been many times, holiday and work. It's a fantastic place. I first started going there when the civil war was going on. It's beautiful and full of warm people.

Best day of your life?

My wife and I went to Ravello, Italy after a difficult pregnancy and we sat in this little square and they played classical Italian music. There was a real togetherness that we absorbed.

What's your favourite breakfst?

Full English for sure. Two fried eggs, black pudding from The Fruit Pig Company, an East Anglian treasure. Of course bacon, eggs, sausages with a big pot of English Breakfast tea.

What's your favourite tipple?

A pint of Adnams Ghost Ship. I like sitting in the Maybush Pub in Waldringfield by the river when drinking that. I love a good whiskey too.

What's your hidden talent?

I'm not bad at hypnotising chickens.

When were you most embarrassed?

I said excuse me to myself in the mirror once in a public loo, I said 'oh sorry! Excuse me!'

What's your earliest memory?

Going to infant school and there were three trikes, two red and one blue, and I was desperate to get a blue one so I nicked it off Jamie - aged 2.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

The Hokey Cokey. I would love to have some sort of joke at the end, like a fake leg coming out of the coffin.

Tell us something people don't know about you?

I could have easily gone into the military. I was there for 5 years.

What's the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?

That they don't watch Game of Thrones.

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else?

Because I think this is a unique part of the world. There's something about East Anglia, it's the skies. Artists have painted it and spoken about it. The horizon makes you want to see beyond and travel.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

Come and see our farm, Jimmy's Farm! We're more than a farm though, we've had our zoo licence for three years now. Most importantly, please think about conservation. Sponsor places like the WWF or take a bag for life when you go shopping, use reusable coffee cups and support local rare breeds to keep them going.


Follow Gina Long @geewizzgee1

Email gina@hallfarmfornham.com

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