Pointers on Phil’s pet pal
TELEVISION is full of surprises.Take the new show tonight on More4, featuring Phil Spencer, the property man from Location, Location, Location, and Like It Or Lump It. It begins with Phil explaining the epic journey he’s about to undertake. “I’m walking from one side of the country to the other,” he announces to viewers, “along with my best friend.”
But just when you’re expecting Kirstie Allsopp, his co-host of 23 years, to pop up alongside him, having swapped the usual floral frock for a Mountain Warehouse waterproof, who should appear instead but Luna – Phil’s German shorthaired pointer.
There is, I’ll admit, a clue in the programme’s title: GREAT BRITISH DOG WALKS WITH PHIL SPENCER
But even so, to have found out that Phil’s best friend isn’t really Kirstie after all, having believed so passionately in that TV partnership for all these years, is something I can’t quite get my head around.
I do hope she’s at least in his top three.
On the plus side, Phil and Luna’s relationship looks joyous. So this trek of theirs – the coast-to-coast walk from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire – looks like being thoroughly rewarding.
“Lots of miles to cover,” Phil promises her. “Lots of interesting people to meet, dogs to meet…” And he’s not just saying that.
Shortly after setting off, they hook up with Billy and Alf, who will be joining them for a couple of days. Billy is Mark “Billy”
Billingham, the shouty ex-military man from SAS:Who DaresWins. And Alf is Billy’s British bulldog.
Yes, of COURSE the ex-SAS guy has a British bulldog, but he’s quick to point out that Alf is “mega, mega soft” (ironically, the sort of attribute that would get you turfed off Billy’s regular show).
Luna looks a bit wary at first, but she and Alf are soon rubbing along fine together.
Phil, meanwhile, has a fascinating chat with Billy, who has lots od stories to tell about his military days.
They do have slightly different approaches to dog walking, mind you. Phil likes peace, quiet and headspace. Billy, when walking through this type of terrain, admits he’s a tad more ex-soldiery. “You can’t get away from going, ‘Right, if I was going to take that hill now... guns up on the high ground... swing into the valley...’”
And did Billy and his wife apply the same military discipline when they set about training Alf?
“We were the classic,” he assures Phil. “No feeding him at the table. He doesn’t go on our bed, he doesn’t go on the furniture.”
“So this was all agreed at the beginning?” asks Phil, clearly quite impressed.
“Yep,” Billy confirms. “And it lasted about 15 seconds.”