Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site


People roll up in their Range Rovers and green Wellington boots and stand around on grassy banks in the English Lake District or the Welsh hills to watch a few rounds of some local sheep-dog trial. But the thing that has turned sheepdog trials into an increasingly popular spectator sport in Britain is a TV program called ''One Man and His Dog.''

Thanks to it, vast numbers of Britons are now familiar with the intricate hazards of sheep-dog trials, from the outrun, the gather, the drive, and the cross-drive, to the shedding ring and the pen.

About these ads

Now airing its 18th annual eight-part series (back on the shores of Buttermere, in the Lake District, where it first began), this Sunday-evening, 45-minute program on BBC-2 attracts some 7 million viewers.

This popular program could be one of the corporation's best-kept secrets. Scottish shepherd Jock Welsh has judged trials all over the United States. Growing US interest would suggest a potential American audience.

Oddly, however, the show is not sold outside Britain. Producer Joy Corbett believes the BBC has a tendency ``back-room it.'' Welsh himself appeared in the first round, the Scottish heat, of the current series. He ran his dog Craig, and placed second by a narrow margin. A philosophical loser, he stayed on to watch the subsequent rounds. The overall winner will be known Nov. 13. Still a largely male sport, this year's winner will certainly be a man: The only woman to win so far was Katy Cropper, in 1990.

The truth is, though, that it is not the human who actually wins. It is the dog. With a little help from his friends.

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.