From its whimsical theme music to its frankly endearing cast, Sugar Free Farm is one of the best celebrity reality shows on television.
The premise is simple - seven celebrities go to an organic livestock farm to live together for two weeks, deprived of sugar and processed foods. They pay for their keep by helping out on the farm and, hopefully, pick up lots of new healthy habits along the way.
Here's why you should watch...
There’s an absence of bitchiness
When reality show participants constantly attack each other, it just demeans them and the viewers. Over at the farm, there are some genuine British eccentrics among the cast, who are both intriguing and entertaining to watch.
The biggest star of the group is Peter Davison, 65, Doctor Who's fifth Doctor, who's also well known for playing Tristan Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small. He’s mild-mannered and slightly self-effacing. Granted, he does disappear in the back of an ambulance early on when suffering sugar withdrawals, but after being checked out in hospital, he’s soon back in the thick of it.
The rest of the celebrity farm hands could be described as desperadoes in the nicest possible way because they’re nearly all survivors of multiple reality shows.
There’s the slightly dour but stoic Ann Widdecombe, 69. The former Conservative MP resigned from parliament in 2010 and went straight into the cast of Strictly Come Dancing, where her samba routine dressed in canary yellow quickly made her a crowd favourite. She’s so bad at dancing she made Dawn Fraser's performance in the local version of the show seem as polished as Ginger Rogers. Widdecombe was then snapped up to feature on Tipping Point: Lucky Star and Cleverdicks quiz show.
Then there are the hysterical Greek Irish dancers, Demetrios "Demi" Demetriou, 49, and son Michalakis "Lagi" Andreas, 20. The pair, also known as Stavros Flatley, reached the finals of Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 when Simon Cowell described them as the best dance act he’d ever seen. They were certainly the funniest, but on Sugar Free Farm, Demi discovers the tummy he’s been lasciviously waggling on stage could be setting him up for a heart attack or stroke.
Entertainment reporter Alison Hammond, 42, found fame after she appeared on Big Brother in 2002, and promptly broke a table she was jumping up and down on. On Sugar Free Farm, she engages in no such stunts and seems to be the most appreciative for this fresh start to her life. She says living sugar-free makes her feel empowered.
Meanwhile, stand-up comedian Joe Pasquale, 55, a past winner of I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! and a contestant on Dancing On Ice in 2013, is downright adorable with his quirky charm. It’s also revealed in episode one that he has the worst diet of the group and is addicted to sugar.
Finally, there’s The Only Way Is Essex cast member Gemma Collins, 35, who only lasted three days when she was in the jungle on I’m A Celeb... back in 2004. At the beginning, she’s not that interested in farm work but wouldn’t mind scoring herself a hot farmer boyfriend. Unfortunately for her, these are few and far between, with many of the farm hands taking the term "rustic" to a whole new level. Of course, by the end of the four-part series, she has renewed energy and has lost so much weight she feels like a supermodel.
There are no boring trainers screaming at them to mend their ways
There’s just a lovely, earnest dietitian, Hala El-Shafie, who clearly believes the softly, softly approach works best. She has ingenious ways of getting them to see the folly of their ways, including getting Lagi to make commercial sausages for himself to see what really goes in his sausage sandwiches. Meanwhile, Widdecombe, who swears by soft spreads, is gobsmacked when she discovers they’re anything but natural. At the same time, Hammond learning how to make butter from scratch is a revelation.
It’s unintentionally funny
In one of the kookiest scenes, the cast sit around in a circle listening to a mindfulness expert telling them how important it is to be in the moment when you eat. It’s just a shame the food they have to gaze at in wonder is just a tomato. Predictably, Widdecombe is the first one to say what the others are thinking: this is a load of bollocks.
The ending is extra satisfying
Spoiler alert - nearly all the celebs lost kilos of weight in two weeks while living off the fat of the land. Better still, six weeks later when the cameras checked back in, they had mostly still renounced sugar - except for Widdecombe, who had promptly returned to her old lifestyle with some minor refinements. The former politician did say she loved taking part in Sugar Free Farm because of the opportunity to experience farm life and meet the beautiful farm animals.
Many viewers will no doubt be inspired to ditch a little more sugar from their lives as well.
Watch the first episode of Sugar Free Farm on SBS On Demand right here: