Good Collie – dog film’s a smash hit

A Border Collie pup.

A Border Collie pup.

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An eagerly-anticipated film capturing the unique relationship between shepherds and their working dogs premiered to a sell-out audience of more than 300 people.

To The Border Bred - The Border Collie Story was screened for the first time on Wednesday, April 2, in front of a captivated crowd at The Maltings, Berwick.

Colin Balmbro with Scott and Cap.

Colin Balmbro with Scott and Cap.

The feature-length documentary, which is set in Northumberland and the Scottish borders, celebrates this extraordinary breed, from its earliest days to the present time and is told through the experiences of those who work with them every day.

Made by Shadowcat Films, the media-production company of Doddington-based Alysoun Sharpe and shot by Norham’s Jas Gibson, of GIS Photographic, it showcases many aspects of a border collie, including a newborn litter, the first time a puppy is taken to sheep and the ongoing training of a working dog.

The production, featuring voices from the region, took eight months to film. But the film’s director Alysoun admits the project has all been worth it.

She said: “I am delighted with the way the audience connected with the film and the response it’s received. It’s been such a pleasure to meet all the people involved, and their dogs. I’m looking forward to touring the film around Northumberland and the Borders.”

Border Collies on the run.

Border Collies on the run.

Alysoun added that the sincerity of the participants in the film was overwhelmingly apparent to the sell-out audience as they talked of their first dogs, and the care they took of them.

There was also emotion as shepherds told of their sadness when they lost a dog after many years of service and at the exploration of the war-time exploits of Sheila the sheepdog, who was involved in the rescue of American airmen from the Cheviot in 1944.

Alysoun added: “The film is not just for those already devoted to dogs, but it is an evocation of what it truly means to be a shepherd in the Cheviot Hills, where reliance on the working collie is still paramount.”

The film is being shown at a number of venues over the coming weeks, including the Cheviot Centre, in Wooler, on Monday, April 28, at 7pm, as well as Friday, May 9, at 2pm, while Rothbury’s Jubilee Hall hosts a screening on Friday, May 16, at 7.30pm.

Other venues include Kelso, Hexham and Town Yetholm. Tickets are £5, £4 concessions and £3 children. For more details, call Dorothy on 01890 850285, email Alysoun or visit

The DVD is available through The Maltings, Berwick, and on the Shadowcat Films’ website.