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December 10, 2006 - The Independent:

He lives in a house, a very big house in the country...

Alex JamesOnce they've topped the charts and filled stadia around the world, any self-respecting rock star will turn their back on hedonism, start a family and move to a very big house in the country.

But Alex James, the erstwhile bass player in Blur, has gone one better. Not only does he run a farm, he is about to become the voice of farming for BBC Radio 4.

The musician has landed a new gig as presenter of the weekly Sunday morning series On Your Farm after joining the land-owning classes with his 200-acre holding.

James, 38, has a flock of sheep and a cheese-making operation in the Cotswolds. Yesterday he confessed there was some irony in his new vocation: "All these things that I abhorred and shunned and wrote songs about hating, I'm now embracing."

The BBC admits there may be pooh-poohing from some sections of the agricultural community, but Steve Peacock, On Your Farm and Farming Today's executive producer, said: "I would anticipate there are plenty of farmers who would sneer at being told about farming by a guy from Blur, but when they get to know him they'll realise he's keen and really getting a grip on it."

James has diversified since Blur's last album Think Tank was released in 2003. While band frontman Damon Albarn has pursued musical spin-offs such as Gorillaz, James has combined writing (he is a columnist for The Independent), radio and farming.

He said: "There is nothing more grotesque than an ageing, woman-chasing, whisky-swigging rock'n'roller, so it's been quite dignified, this whole process."

The married father-of-threewill be profiled by On Your Farm on 7 January and takes over as a regular presenter the following week. Also joining the presenting team are former Channel 4 political editor Elinor Goodman and TV chef Clarissa Dickson-Wright.

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