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The Sheep of Art

Is it possible to hear too many sheep? Author of Driving Over Lemons Chris Stewart - who has kept a flock for 40 years - and writer and academic Alexandra Harris think not.

What's the difference between the sheep found in art and real sheep?

In a sheep bell rich melange, we go in hunt of the real thing, with sheep farmer, author of world best-sellers "Driving Over Lemons" and ex-Genesis member, Chris Stewart, and academic, writer and potential Bo-Peeper Alexandra Harris.

Those famous shepherds watching their flocks by night were, of course, following in a great tradition - guarding sheep, leading them to pasture, and then probably killing their babies - just like Able, the first shepherd.

From ancient times, the shepherd and the sheep they care for, have been the most consistent of rural sights - they appear in poetry, plays and painting, inaccurately, romanticised, and highly symbolic.

The closest Alexandra Harris has been to real sheep has been wandering past a few woolly bundles on the South Downs.
She is, of course, more familiar with the Pastoral in art - from the Greek idyll to Shakespeare's 'A Winter's Tale'.
To her - "shepherding suggests knowing the real facts of life, wisdom of all time coming down through the ages".

Chris Stewart, who left the UK 25 years ago to pursue a new life as a shepherd in Spain, has 40 plus years of shepherding under his belt. He is more than familiar with the sheep's ways - their smells, herd mentality, incontinence and vulnerability.
He knows how to feed one, find one and kill one, when necessary, although he still loves them dearly.
To help Alexandra get to grips with the reality of the pastoral life Chris suggests 'Get your own flock of sheep and become a shepherdess....'

Enter Paco - hardy Alpujarran mountain shepherd, bachelor and philosopher - although when asked what he thinks about whilst watching his flocks all day, he can only answer 'No, pienso nada!'

Let the sheep bells fly....

Producer
Sara Jane Hall

Music
Sheepwrecked - from the traditional
Combined with Yan Tan Tether (Trad)
And Mangare
Peformed by Nathaniel Mann

Count Your Blessings (instead of Sheep) sung by Bing Crosby

Poets
Edmund Spencer
Sir Walter Raleigh
Read by Richard Burton

Sheep and bells
Recording on location in Olias and El Valero, Alpujarra mountains, Spain
And Shearwell Farm, Exmouth
Extra baas from a biscuit tin.

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30 minutes

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