Video: Suffolk shepherd stars in new ITV television series Flockstars
- Credit: Archant
He’s used to the challenges of a life outdoors – braving rain, wind and even snow to look after his sheep in bucolic rural Suffolk.
But shepherd Ed Hawkins, said the mission to teach a flock of TV and music stars to ‘come bye’ and ‘walk on’, was a steep learning curve even for him.
Mr Hawkins, from Combs, near Stowmarket, is one of three shepherds who trained stars for ITV programme Flockstars, which airs on Thursday.
The eight-week long knockout competition will see DJ Tony Blackburn, former Eternal singer Kelle Bryan, Strictly Come Dancing Star Bendan Cole, former N-Dubz member Fazer (Richard Rawson), Birds of a Feather star Lesley Joseph, TV presenter Amanda Lamb, Coronation Street star Wendi Peters and ten-time Paralympic Gold medalist Lee Pearson, guide flocks around specially designed competition courses.
Mr Hawkins, 28, who works as an assistant stockman on Buckle Farms in Semer, was allowed time off by his bosses Michael Mumford and James Buckle, to film the show.
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The former Stowmarket High School pupil took two of his dogs, Bill and Max, as well as Midge, who belongs to a friend, to train Wendi, Kelle and Amanda to become familiar with phrases such as ‘come bye’, ‘ lie down’, ‘away’ and ‘walk on’.
Mr Hawkins said the experience was different to what he was used to while filming took place at a 90-acre suburban farm near Bexleyheath, adding: “It was quite a culture change going from a nice little cottage to a Premier Inn for six or seven weeks.
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“It was a learning curve for me, learning how to do it for television, knowing where to stand, and things like that.”
The professional shepherd also said it was a challenge for the celebrities too, who had to sound like the dog’s master in order to get their four-legged colleague onside.
He added: “They had to sound like a Suffolk farmer in the case of my celebrities.
“They had to make a lot of compromises to make a success of it. They had to mould themselves to the dog and think like a shepherd.”
Despite being stars of their own, the shepherd, who produces for Nedging Lamb, was not starstruck by working with the celebrities.
Mr Hawkins, the chairman of the East Anglian Sheepdog Society, added: “They were very down to earth, they were very much normal people.
“The strangest thing was they were in our hands doing something new and most of the time we would say ‘jump’ and they would say ‘how high’, which is what they are used to doing so we had to take the reins.”
Since coming back, it’s been all hands on deck for Mr Hawkins. He said: “I was grateful to get that time away.
“It’s nice to be back doing something a bit more hands on.”
Flockstars starts on ITV, Sky Channel 103 at 8.30pm.