BBC2, Friday

TV review: Wild Shepherdess - Look out, chaps, there's a goat botherer about!


She makes yoghurt, she spins yarn, she looks nice in a fleece. But when will Kate Humble's gap year ever end?

Why are you filming this? It's only dung!" Kate Humble travels thousands of miles to the Wakhan Valley and who does she meet among the primitive herdspeople who scratch a living from the back end of Afghanistan? A TV critic. This sharp-eyed tribeswoman had a point, though – a point, as it happens, that Brian Sewell made in another newspaper last Sunday. The 81-year-old art critic has turned into the awkward grandparent of British culture, spouting the truths that many others dare not speak. His diatribe was directed at the BBC's factual programming, which he called "patronising rubbish", citing the various jaunts of, among others, Michael Palin: "He goes to Outer Mongolia and sleeps in a yurt, but you don't learn anything about Outer Mongolia's politics, economics, future or past. You're merely having an adventure holiday by proxy."

Back to Humble, in her yurt, in outer Afghanistan, where Sewell's criticisms appeared to have turned into directorial notes. The idea of Wild Shepherdess with Kate Humble was that she trek up to the high mountain pastures of the Wakhi and spend a few weeks living with them – the presenter herself farms sheep in Wales, so, she told us, she wanted to "look back in time to experience an ancient way of life to see if it has a place in the 21st century". Perhaps. But only glancingly did she try to make good on this promise: late on in the documentary, we learned that child mortality blights the community and that the average life expectancy of the Wakhi is a mere 35 years.

Instead, Humble played the role in which she excels, the nice girl who set off on her gap year 25 years ago and never quite came home. She made yoghurt, she spun yarn, she looked fetching in expensive hiking gear. And she milked a goat. It's probably in Humble's contract that she has to milk a goat on screen at least once a year. The Wakhi, meanwhile, stood back, looked picturesque against the mountain backdrop and possibly wondered how much of their short 35 years on Earth they were going to spend watching Humble churn butter in the dark.

Wild Shepherdess may well like to think it inhabits an altogether classier neighbourhood of the schedules than Hollywood Me (Channel 4, Wednesday ***). But at least the Channel 4 makeover show couldn't give a damn about its own contrivance. Each week a deserving civilian is jetted off to Los Angeles, and hosted for three days of pampering by a celebrity; meanwhile, unbeknown to them, their home is redecorated by interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard.

This overexcitable hybrid format was as exhausting as it sounds. Emily from Peterborough, a mother to quadruplet toddlers and a social worker, looked fair pooped when she was ambushed by Bullard, bushed as she was dragged about the boutiques and clinics of Beverly Hills by Sharon Osbourne, and none too refreshed when she collapsed on her new sofas back home. But the show couldn't have given two hoots about the sensible Emily and a bored-looking Osbourne, not with Bullard chewing up the scenery, often his own.

Wearing a cravat and an appalled pout for most of the programme, Bullard sailed way past the stereotype of the interior designer. He took inspiration from a snap of Emily's Maldives honeymoon and declared that he was going to create a "space with me-time quality", with an Indian Ocean look. In the end, Emily looked pleased with her vamped-up home, though it would be fun to see how the woven-grass wallpaper passes the quadruplets' snag check.

It's no coincidence, I suspect, that The White Queen (BBC1, Sunday ***) began its 10-part run the week that Game of Thrones finished. The BBC's adaptation of Philippa Gregory's War of the Roses novels has an eye on the same audience – the opening credits, the snowy, nightmarish opening scene, each was a none-too-subtle steal of GoT's own.

Whether it has anything like the same capacity to deliver sweaty sex, ultra-violence and low politics, and all on a Sunday night, remains to be seen after last week's wobbly start.

Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before