Channel 4 has ordered a major new six-part series, The Simple Life, that will follow 24 Brits as they come together to live by the rules of the Amish. It is produced by Five Mile Films and Motion Content Group.
The 24 contributors include a social media content creator, a Norfolk rapper, a former soldier, twin brothers from South London and a gay couple – one of whom is head of nursing operations across three NHS hospitals and the other an ex-army media – with their two adopted children. They will be joined in an idyllic countryside backdrop by an Amish family of five from Ohio, home to the largest Amish community in the world.
The community will live off-grid on a 40-acre farm complete with a lake and a wood but without their phones, any form of technology, mains electricity or gas. They will be required to raise a barn and build a pig ark for the impending arrival of their livestock in addition to harvesting over three acres of hay – all in the traditional Amish way, without mechanisation. The community will also need to travel into the local town via horse and cart for supplies and to trade or sell results of the cottage industries they have started. The Amish family will offer the community advice on the day-to-day lifestyle as well as guidance on how to live simply – and ultimately how to find happiness with a more humble existence.
The project will be overseen by world renowned psychologist, Barry Schwartz who, in his bestselling book, The Paradox of Choice, argued that rather than bringing us happiness, the choices available to us in modern life only make us feel more stressed and that too much choice makes us unhappy.
Filmed over a six-month period, a team of British scientists will monitor and evaluate changes in the wellbeing of the community across the filming period – both on the farm and when they return to their normal, modern lives. Will there be a positive impact on the mental and physical health of those taking part or is there a desperate need to get back to their consumerist packed lifestyles?
The Simple Life (6 x 60’) was commissioned by Gilly Greenslade, Commissioning Editor for Factual Entertainment at Channel 4 and Alf Lawrie, Head of Factual Entertainment at Channel 4. The Simple Life is produced by Five Mile Films and Motion Content Group. The Executive Producer is Stephen Day with Nick Mirsky for Five Mile Films and Martin Oxley for Motion Content Group. The Series Editor is Anna Llewellyn and the Series Producers are Jo McDiarmid and Helen Simpson.
Gilly Greenslade, Commissioning Editor for Factual Entertainment at Channel 4 said, “I think many of us have been questioning whether we’ve got our priorities right, not just in light of the pandemic, but also the climate crisis, our worsening mental health crisis and our increasing reliance on technology for everything from our social lives to the weekly food shop. By shining a light on the substantially stripped back lives of the Amish community, we hope the series will offer the volunteers the chance to be part of something truly special and re-evaluate what matters in life.”
Stephen Day, Executive Producer added, “This is an extraordinary chance to cast aside technology, social media, credit cards, fashion, news – almost everything that defies modern life – and to see what that does to us and how that makes us feel.”
Martin Oxley, Executive Producer from Motion Content Groups adds, “An opportunity to examine the pros and cons of modern life in genuine depth rarely comes around, so we couldn’t be more excited to do exactly that with Channel 4 and the team at Five Mile Films.”
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