A strangely entertaining affair that is perfect for a relaxing weekend afternoon
Contrary to what this website says, One Man & his Dog is very much alive and doing small but cheerful business on BBC2 on a Saturday afternoon. I happened across it recently after watching an old movie on the same channel to help pass a rather cold and wet afternoon. For those that haven't watched it before, essentially you have one man who has to use his dog to take a group of sheep around a series of obstacles or manoeuvres and the man (and his dog) that does it best, scores the most points and then wins. It is as simple as that and my god but it sounds about as dull as you could imagine.
But the surprising thing is that it isn't at all. Now I'll admit that I never did and never will tune in on a weekly basis to follow my favourite shepherd but when I happen upon it, it still grabs my attention and is much more engaging that you would believe it could be. It helps that the whole thing is delivered with a relaxed charm to it and, although quite a tough contest, everyone seems to be very good-humoured about it and it is rare for anyone to be less than totally sporting and gentlemanly about losing or winning. This approach continues today, even though this is really part of why it has always been a small programme appealing to a select market. The presenters (as they have changed down the years) have never had an easy task and when they are talking before or after the action I'll confess that the show does get very dull.
However this is not a major problem partly down to it all being delivered in such a charming, low-key manner but mainly down to the fact that the aforementioned "man" and "his dog" is what takes up the majority of the time. Although the contest is played out in good humour, it is actually still pretty tense as the men try to make their dogs move the correct way using whistles and calls, to bring the sheep around and avoid overshooting them, charging them or, worst of all, splitting the group. It is against the clock although after seeing it once in real time the rest tend to be a bit edited to minimise the longer, repetitive manoeuvres. It is a real skill and it makes for strangely engaging viewing. Like I said, I'll not be making a weekly return but I think that many viewers will at least be engrossed for one episode by the skills involved and the spectacle of the whole thing.
Overall a good-humoured and engaging show that has its dull moments and is a rather select viewing choice but is still much more fun than the big, colourful, crude, noisy game shows that clutter the Saturday night schedules. Low-key, relaxed and sporting, this skillful contest makes for engaging viewing and I defy the casual viewer not to stop his channel surfing when he catches a glimpse of it it really is a strangely entertaining affair and is perfect for a relaxing weekend afternoon.
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