Series one, episode one
‘Hours later, all the yurts are up and the smell of burning yak dung fills the air.’ This is probably how most people imagine the chilly, hardscrabble existence of poor Afghan shepherds. Just in case you imagined there might be more to it than that, Kate Humble is here to prove that there really isn’t. And she doesn’t half take her time about it.
It’s part leaden-footed travel doc, part investigation into food sustainability, and Kate – who has a sheep farm in Wales that she mentions once or twice – journeys to the Wakhan Corridor in northern Afghanistan for a long, slow hour in the company of a group of mountain sheep farmers. They drink tea, worry about the weather and predators, bake bread – boy, do they bake a lot of bread – and teach their children how to rear animals, while Kate assures us how alien it all is.
Kate herself just about wins the day – not least when she takes up the telegenic offer to join a group of mischievous hags baking bread and is summarily worked like a dog deep into the night. The vistas, meanwhile, are truly flabbergasting. Ultimately though, this all feels like film of a research expedition ahead of a proper documentary where everyone’s just killing time until Michael Wood or Michael Palin rocks up. And with two more episodes to come…