Bees know the score.

One sign (among many) of the coming apocalypse is their mass disappearance, though boffins don't know if they've been poisoned by pesticides, have wearily relocated underwater or been imprisoned via some sinister wasp conspiracy.

It was the end of an era, too, on Edwardian Farm (BBC2, Wednesday 9pm), the smash sequel to Victorian Farm, Tudor Window-Box and Druid Shrubbery. It put three academics and no actual farmers in a pastoral time-pod depicting backbreaking labour as a terrifically jolly lark.

While the archaeologist blokes chased prized cocks around the yard "to take their vital measurements", historian Ruth tended to the market garden and harvested seaweed with the help of an "expert forager" a polite term for a tramp, basically.

Doddering Devonian farmer Mr Mudge was consulted on matters of ancient lore, though his Middle Earth accent was as hard to decipher as the tattoos on Gandalf's inner thigh. All were in period dress, though in his case perhaps not on purpose.

Filmed over the course of a year, the show's gentle rhythms made for a far more satisfying watch than the retro Seventies snickering of Sue and Giles living The Good Life.

This final episode took us to August, the year's climax. As rain delayed the harvest, we witnessed a blacksmith's mastery of archetypal Edwardian crafts such as copper beating (recently revived in the student riots), deferring to the landowning classes and convincingly wearing a hat. An early tractor puttered briefly into life, but broke down so often it would have been quicker to harvest the field with tweezers. All sagas need a villain and in this olde-worlde ode progress was its name.

As the steam clouds gathered, the mood darkened. There were gut-wrenching scenes of the pretend-farmers parting from their cherished livestock - the scholars heading back to their libraries, the animals to the chilled meat aisle of a South London Tesco Express. Above it all, like a Zeppelin that hasn't caught fire yet, loomed the spectre of the First World War.

A million horses went over to an occupied, ration-hit Continent. Just 60,000 came back. No wonder the French got a taste for it.

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