A farmer from Benington, near Stevenage, has triumphed in the latest series of a hit BBC show.

Liam Birnie, who has lived in the village his entire life, partnered up with fellow farmer Jack Hatt to compete in The Fast and the Farmer-ish.

Tackling a variety of challenges in their souped-up tractors, Liam and Jack emerged as champions after a hard-fought series.

Liam, 21, told the Comet that he had loved the "once in a lifetime opportunity" - the kind of thing, he says, that never normally happens "unless you're some famous fella"!

The Comet: From L, clockwise: the trophy won by Liam and Jack; the podium where the result was announced; the line-up of tractors.From L, clockwise: the trophy won by Liam and Jack; the podium where the result was announced; the line-up of tractors. (Image: Liam Birnie)

It all came out of nowhere, with Jack originally set to compete with a different partner.

But those plans fell through, with the farmer unable to get the time off work, and so Jack came to Liam instead.

Having been friends for six years, since meeting at a Young Farmers' Club, it wasn't an opportunity that Liam was going to miss.

He managed to get time off for the filming - which took place over a number of weeks in Northern Ireland - and the rest, as they say, is history.

Over the course of a heat, semi-final and final, Liam says that he and Jack - who is from Bovingdon in Hertfordshire - had a "good laugh" while progressing all the way.


His favourite challenge was the final one where, he says, "we just went for it and ended up winning".

Liam also loved the announcement that they had won - he enjoyed "wiping the smiles off the Scottish boys' faces" as they "started to get cocky".

Farming has been a lifelong passion for Liam, who told the Comet that he had wanted to work in agriculture ever since he was a kid.

He said that it is "in his blood", with his grandad, also a farmer, acting as an inspiration for him.

"I grew up in a tractor with him from a young age, and I've always been around farming".

When he was nine or ten, Liam began helping out on farms, learning from experienced farmers such as Mark Kirbyshire, a friend of his dad's.

It progressed from there, and he ended up completing an apprenticeship with his dad, who also has a small farm.

He now splits his time between family business J. Birnie Property Services and helping out at farms, including one run by his girlfriend's dad.

The lifestyle isn't for the faint of heart - on the day we speak, Liam was up at 5am to load straw to be sent off, before heading to his dad's building yard at 7am.

He tends to spend his weekdays with the family business, finding time for the farm work in the evenings and at weekends.

"I reckon I sit in a tractor four days out of seven, and it's not even my actual job!"

That doesn't leave much time, especially during the summer, when Liam says he'll be working "almost 24/7", adding "the work's just got to get done".

The long hours and hard work don't bother him though, and Liam can't see himself doing anything else, concluding: "Once the farming is there, you can't take it out of you."

You can watch all the episodes of The Fast and the Farmer-ish on BBC iPlayer.