tue 25/06/2024

Kate Humble: My Sheepdog & Me, BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews

Kate Humble: My Sheepdog & Me, BBC Two

Kate Humble: My Sheepdog & Me, BBC Two

Charming investigation into canine identity

How Welsh is Teg?

There is a grand ongoing project in Wales at the moment, the goal of which is to hunt for the deep ancestral DNA of the Welsh people. CymruDNAWales has already made some startling findings, in particular about a dozen all-powerful chieftains from 1500 years ago whose DNA is found in a large number of Welsh males. But enough about Welsh men and women. What about Welsh dogs?

A country whose image is bound up in sheep farming doesn't seem to have a national herding dog to match. The Welsh sheepdog is the only candidate, and a few years ago it was very nearly extinct: only 80 were left in the country. After strenuous efforts at breeding, that number now stands at 2,000. But what actually is a Welsh sheep dog? No two members of the breed look alike, a shortfall about which they'd be horribly snotty over at Crufts.

Step forward, Kate Humble, once upon a time the sensible face of Top Gear, nowadays residing on a farm in Monmouthshire where she is the soppy owner of Teg. Teg means fair (hence the town Maesteg: fair field) and Teg certainly answers to the description, with a sleek white and auburn coat and a long elegant snout. She looks like a cross between David Bowie and Basil Brush, Humble advised the chairman of the Welsh Sheepdog Society. Both cultural references seem to fly clean past him.

Teg is, possibly, a Welsh sheepdog. Humble was determined to establish her Welsh credentials by teaching her to herd sheep in the distinctly Welsh way. Unlike the Border collie, which crouches as it herds and needs copious instruction from a shepherd, a Welsh sheepdog knows what it's doing, keeps its head up and relies on its deep-seated herding instinct.

This charming film fell somewhere between Faking It and Who Do You Think You Are?, not forgetting One Man and His Dog. Humble spent a lot of time driving up and down the mountains of Wales (which looked predictably ravishing) to tell the story of the breed while searching for a mate for Teg. As often with hour-long documentaries it could have done with a little less padding, but there was plenty of solid journalism too as, via visits to the labs at Aberystwyth University, Humble investigated the debatable question of what constitutes an actual breed.

Perhaps sheepdog trials should be an Olympic sport, from which this film provided a pleasant port in a storm for anyone not focussed on Rio. It has a superior claim to jousting. For anyone with any interest in Wales, it was like having your tummy rubbed. Not one for lovers of cats, or the great indoors.

Perhaps sheepdog trials should be an Olympic sport, from which this film provided a port in a storm


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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Kate would have saved herself a lot of time and aggravation had she:

a) Read "The Herdwick Shepherd" for some real insights into how sheepdogs are trained, work and react with shepherds & other sheepdogs 

b) Spoken to some top sheepdog trainers

ahead of her ambitions.

More about the growth of and changes inTeg's character & abilties than Kate's voyage of discovery might have built the interest better.

Finally the producer's perhads should have used Rebecca Front or Tracy AnnOberman for the narrator to provide more of a contrast to Kate's meanderings.

It all came across as a bit self-indulgent.

Puppies were great though.

Kate Humble self-indulgent? *Irony* This TV personality seems to have lasted a lot longer than other celebrity presenters, but I find it hard to watch anything with her in it. Of the Dan Cruikshank or Charlotte Uehlenbroek (sp?) school. One similarly waits for a beast of a gorilla's ilk to give her a good biff.

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