One Man and His Dog



Phil Drabble (1976-93)
Robin Page (1994-2000)
Clarissa Dickson-Wright (2000-03)
Shauna Lowry (2004-06)
Ben Fogle (2004-07)
Kate Humble (2008-11)
Matt Baker (2010-)
Michaela Strachan (2012)
Julia Bradbury (2013)
Helen Skelton (2014, 19, 21)
Ellie Harrison (2015)
Anita Rani (2016, 18)
Charlotte Smith (2017, 20)


Eric Halsall (1976-90)
Ray Ollrenshaw (1991-93)
Gus Dermody (1994-2012)
Matt Baker (2006-)
Andy Jackman (2013-)

Guest captains:
Shauna Lowry (2001)
Rhodri Williams (2001)
Matt Baker (2001)
Vicki Butler-Henderson (2001)
Jackie Bird (2002)
Ben Fogle (2002-03)
John Craven (2002-03)
Trude Mostue (2002-03)


BBC2, 17 February 1976 to 13 March 1999 (regular series)

Annual specials: 1999 to 2012

BBC One, 27 October 2013 to present (as part of Countryfile)


It's been many hundreds of years since animals have been put up for trial (hello to our readers in Hartlepool). Maybe for crimes they didn't commit. The tradition was brought back crash bang into the Twentieth Century with One Man and His Dog, a television programme about sheepdog trials.

One man...

Three shepherds, who each owned a sheepdog attempted to whistle and "come by" their way through the show. Each competitor typically had to get their dog to guide some sheep through a gate, into a ring (where they'd have to separate a certain sheep from the rest) and then into a pen, all the while being given marks by judges. The sheep generally played up quite a bit, but nobody had the clever idea of just shouting "mint sauce!" or somesuch.

..and his dog

The vets at BBC2 head office finally put the programme to sleep as we approached the new millennium. They didn't quite succeed in killing it off, though, as it still lives on in the form of annual specials. The (at one point seriously mooted) idea of Sky buying it and renaming it Sky One Man and His Dog was just silly, really.

Rumours surface from time to time about a full-scale comeback, but realistically it's not going to happen. Even after Countryfile turned Matt Baker into a bona fide star, the dividend for One Man and His Dog was a live series over a weekend in September 2012 - the second episode had to be recorded for transmission a week later when the golf over-ran.

Gus Dermody and Matt Baker discussing the contest with Kate Humble

We always wanted the sheep to win, actually.


In 1996, special programmes featuring younger contestants were shown. The name? Young Man and His Dog. Awww...

Obscure horse and country TV channel Horse & Country TV launched their own version in 2007 called Come-Bye!, again hosted by Robin Page, but instead of holding their own contests they just went along and filmed the regular national dog trial competitions. As far as we can tell, it only ran for one series. They actually wanted to use the One Man and His Dog name, but the BBC wouldn't let them, on the not-unreasonable grounds that they were still using it themselves.

Donald and Catriona from Farpaisean Chon Chaorach: the true successors to Dermody and Page?

A more successful attempt to carry the torch for hot hound-on-flock action was Farpaisean Chon-Chaorach which ran on the Gaelic-language channel BBC Alba from 2008 to 2021. Like "Come-Bye!" the show covered existing dog trials rather than staging their own, including the triennial World Championships in 2008 and 2014. (Alba lost the TV rights for the 2011 tourney to More4, who borrowed Countryfile's Ellie Harrison to host, then threw a load of hi-tech gimmicks - and the commentary of Barry Davies - at it; an experiment yet to be revisited.) Although the hosts Dòmhnall MacSuain (Donald MacSween) and Catrìona Nic a Phì (Catriona MacPhee) were rather more given to bits of comic business than the various hosts of 1M&HD had been, it was otherwise very similar to the old show indeed, and while rising costs and static budgets forced its cancellation after thirteen successful series, the expertise is clearly there should the BBC ever decide to bring One Man or something like it back as a mainstream series. With Farpaisean Chon Chorach no longer around, Stellify Media filmed the 2023 World Trials (held in County Down) for BBC One Northern Ireland; they were broadcast as Sheepdog Showdown with Clare Balding on voiceover duties.

If the dog's running Clockwise, it's "Come by", and for Anticlockwise it's "Away". So now you know.


*whistle* "Come by!"

Theme music

Alan Benson. The theme was finally updated in 2012 - the new version is a similar arrangement but with a piano replacing the ever-so-70s lead synth of the original. Sadly it was only used that year; Countryfile just uses its own regular theme music.


30 Years of One Man and His Dog R2 DVD

One Man and His Dog book by Phil Drabble

Web links

BBC programme page

Wikipedia entry

Opening titles from 1977, 1995 and 2002 in the BBC Motion Graphics Archive


The tricky "pen" manouevre
Oh dear, someone's left a load of HDPE pipe all over the course
The winner gets a cup and a saucer (actually, one's an individual prize, and the other is a team prize)
The title card from 2012.

See also

Weaver's Week reviews 2012 and 2020


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