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Wednesday, February 17, 1999 Published at 15:39 GMT


The game's over for One Man and His Dog

Robin Page (left) and Gus Dermody have condemned the plans

Fans of the TV show One Man and His Dog are angry at the BBC's decision to axe the long-running programme.

The show's two presenters,Robin Page and Gus Dermody, have criticised the move as short-sighted.

The decision to axe the programme at the end of its current series was taken on Tuesday. A BBC spokeswoman said: "One Man and His Dog has been a special part of the BBC for the past 23 years - but, after much thought, we feel it is time to take a new look at how we approach country matters.

"The programme will therefore not return in its current form."

'A real tragedy'

[ image: Supporters predict that many country people will be upset]
Supporters predict that many country people will be upset
The veteran show about sheepdog trials used to attract as many as eight million viewers back in 1981 - but now regularly pulls in only 1.6 million when it is broadcast on Saturdays.

Presenter Gus Dermody called the decision "a real tragedy". He blamed the programme's afternoon transmission time for its poor showing. During its heyday it was broadcast during the evening.

"What has been happening is that it has been put out at a silly time. I have had complaints from farmers who have said they could not watch it on a Saturday afternoon because they are working," he said.

Robin Page called the decision "stupid, arrogant and out of touch" in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.

"This is really going to upset a lot of country people," he said.

Letter of complaint

Philip Hendry, secretary of the International Sheepdog Society - which has provided the programme with many of its contestants, judges and sheepdogs over the years - said he was writing a letter of complaint to the BBC.

"We have a very long and personal relationship with the programme and we are very disappointed.

"It would be very strange to come across anyone in the public at large who has not seen the programme. It is not just for a small band of farmers, it is popular among the general public as a whole," said Mr Hendry.

A spokeswoman for the Country Landowners' Association said: "There are many programmes about urban life and not many about rural life and the things that happen in rural areas.

"It would be missed by a large quantity of people and not just those from rural areas."

But fans need not despair quite yet. The BBC announced there would be an opportunity "to say a fond farewell to an old friend" in a special edition of One Man and His Dog to be shown later in the year.

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