Countryfile Magazine - - Contents -

One Matt and his dog.

For me, there is noth­ing like the feel­ing of leav­ing mod­ern tech­nol­ogy be­hind, grab­bing a whis­tle and head­ing out into the fields to work in­stinc­tively and in­tu­itively with my dog. I’ve been in­volved in the sheep­dog world since I was a boy, train­ing my first dog Lace when I was 14, and so you can imag­ine that work­ing on One Man and His Dog is a real high­light of the year for me – it’s a broad­cast­ing fam­ily that I’ve been part of for years.

The team runs like clock­work and ev­ery­body knows their roles, from choos­ing a lo­ca­tion that works well on cam­era and yet is chal­leng­ing enough for the finest sheep­dog tri­allers in the world, to film­ing the spec­ta­cle in one go and cap­tur­ing all that hap­pens on the field.


On the eve of the com­pe­ti­tion, com­peti­tors and their dogs and fam­ily travel from across the UK, stay­ing in our care­fully se­lected dog-friendly ho­tel – a great ex­cuse to catch up and put the more ner­vous ones at ease. Our head of sheep Mal­colm is al­ways on hand to give his in­side view of the flock that is wait­ing for the fol­low­ing day’s trial.

When the big day ar­rives, the com­peti­tors and their dogs are usu­ally on the trial field as early as pos­si­ble, cast­ing their eyes across the land­scape at the first avail­able op­por­tu­nity. Al­though the trial and lay­out are al­ways sim­i­lar, ev­ery field is dif­fer­ent. Judg­ing the per­spec­tive of the course is al­ways the chal­lenge – the key is pre-empt­ing where the sheep will nat­u­rally want to go and which bit is go­ing to cause the most prob­lems.


Tech­ni­cally, the pro­gramme is quite a big deal. We turn up with a huge scan­ner van, into which all the cam­eras dot­ted across the trial field are fed, and each run can be cut live as it hap­pens. It’s the kind of kit that is usu­ally used on sport­ing events, and to see it parked in a farm­yard never fails to make me smile. The di­rec­tor, Glenn, sits in this van, usu­ally in wellies, and lit­er­ally calls the shots.

What Glenn cuts up is then played to Andy Jackman and me live in the com­men­tary box, which is more like a shed with a large win­dow. (And let me tell you, it’s al­ways quite a chal­lenge to get our shed into po­si­tion.) Fu­elled with tea and cof­fee from the ca­ter­ing tent and get­ting scores through our walkie-talkies from the judges on the shed roof, we com­men­tate on the ac­tion as it un­folds.

And what a com­pe­ti­tion we wit­nessed. I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it – just head to iPlayer and think of all that went into pro­duc­ing those high­lights from that field at Chirk Cas­tle!

Matt, seen here with his border col­lie Bob, has trained sheep­dogs since he was a boy

One Man and His Dog was broad­cast on Coun­try­file on 27 Septem­ber, and is avail­able to view on iPlayer.

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