How a hunky shepherd made Kate Humble go all aquiver

Kate Humble is wasted as a presenter.She ought to be an old-fashioned matchmaker, pairing off husband-hungry girls with eligible lads and arranging their marriages for a fee.

She certainly threw herself into the search for a dashing dog to mate with her Welsh sheepdog bitch, Teg, on My Sheepdog And Me (BBC2).

But please don’t imagine this was common or garden breeding: Kate compared herself to the mature ladies of a Jane Austen novel, on the lookout for presentable bridegrooms to wed their daughters.

Kate Humble threw herself into the search for a dashing dog to mate with her Welsh sheepdog bitch, Teg, on My Sheepdog And Me (BBC2)

Every mutt she saw came in for careful scrutiny.‘I have to confess I’ve had my eye on Will,’ she mused, as Teg and another dog sniffed around each other. ‘There’s some chemistry going on there.’

Her heart was won, though, by Tango, a dog trained to round up feral sheep that have escaped from flocks into forests.

This was the boyo for her Teg — though the decision might have been influenced by Tango’s owner, who could hoist a ram over his shoulders as if it were a sack of feathers.‘He’s like superman, like a man mountain,’ Kate quivered.

When Kate and her husband, TV producer Ludo, moved from London to a Monmouthshire farm in the early Nineties, they took their middle-class ways with them.

Every decision about the dog was subject to a civilised family debate, which involved complex negotiation and bargaining — with special regard to foreign filming schedules, holiday plans and so on. Muddling through is not this couple’s way.

Teg had one eye that was half-blue, half-brown. ‘She looks like a cross between David Bowie and Basil Brush,’ quipped Kate to a couple of shepherds on a Snowdonia hillside.That drew some blank looks.

And when he brought Teg to be mated, Ludo expended his media small talk on the dog’s owner, in a torrent of elegant chatter and wry asides.

‘She’s going to get Tango’d,’ he commented drily.The farmer answered in monosyllables and eyed him with sidelong suspicion. Witty wordplay might be essential in the TV world, but Welsh country folk expect less talk and more work.

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Ray Mears spotted a trawler off the Brittany coast in Wild France (ITV), scooping up seaweed with a gigantic spinning billhook.

This device was a Scooby-Doo, claimed Ray.Oh yes — and I suppose the captain was called Shaggy and his boat is the Mystery Machine.


However, while her mum and dad were doing all they could to embarrass her, Teg was fitting right in to rural life. She was a natural herder, gently but firmly nosing the ewes through gates and into pens.

Even the judges of the Welsh Sheepdog Society were impressed, and they looked a hard bunch to please.

It was Teg who made this one-off programme such a feelgood pleasure.Soppy and affectionate one minute, she was transformed at a single whistle into a clever, obedient creature who seemed able to read Kate’s mind.

That, of course, is how all pet lovers see our pooches — we know there’s a doggy genius behind those soulful eyes.

And when she had her first litter, a million viewers gave a little whimper and said: ‘I want one!’

Training a dog to round up a hill flock might look a complicated business, but it’s simplicity itself compared to the rulebook of Alphabetical (ITV), host Jeff Stelling’s rapid-fire teatime quiz.Even the algorithm used to calculate the daily prize requires a degree in pure mathematics.

Alphabetical host Jeff Stelling’s efforts is challenging to play at home with 200 snappy questions, even if the canned laughter and applause is loud and grating

And you’d have to be a GCHQ cryptographer to work out the sequence by which correct answers earn five points, three or one, while contestants answer questions aided by clues to the word’s first or last letter.Got that? Would it help to know that the format is based on a Spanish show called Pasapalabra? No, thought not . . .

The confusion this caused didn’t affect the game, since some players were floundering from the start.What tiny crustacean, beginning with K, is eaten by many animal species? ‘Kipper!’ said one chap. The answer was ‘krill’.

And which world-famous gorilla, beginning with G, is commemorated by a statue at London Zoo?No, sorry, ‘Godzilla’ is wrong — it’s ‘Guy’.

With no sign of an audience, the canned laughter and applause is loud and grating. Despite all these flaws, Alphabetical does involve around 200 snappy questions, which makes it challenging fun to play at home.    

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