A collection of short (10-20 minute) programs from the hugely popular ITV series "Out of Town" hosted by Eric Robson (and his "dog on a string" Raq), "One Dog and His Man" follows the rambling yet absorbing pattern of "Secret Places." Traveling outside of his home territory of the Lakeland fells, Robson takes us to the Solway Coast towns of Silloth, Allonby, and Maryport; Eyemouth and Fast Castle in Scotland; The old Hodbarrow Mine site near Millom in Cumbria; the Vale of Whittingham, Greenhaugh and Kielder Forest in Northumberland; Dentdale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park; St. John's Town of Dalry in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland; and the village of Haverthwaite in Cumbria.
The narrative thread connecting these visits to such sparsely visited spots is "Legends of the Lost . . . lost lives and lost industries." Robson delves into local history and lore, sometimes using archival photos and film footage, sometimes consulting local experts, sometimes drawing upon his own personal experiences, to resurrect vanished ways of life and to explain the significance of surviving artifacts. A shop in Silloth where Robson as a boy enjoyed ice cream cones during the summer is now a furniture store. An abandoned and trackless railway station; an empty hovercraft factory; ruined castle and churches (including one with Knights Templar symbols carved into its walls), once the targets of long-forgotten religious and political conflicts; closed mines and steel mills; empty fields where salt was once manufactured; a gunpowder factory where a massive explosion in 1863 killed and wounded numerous workers--Robson has stories for all of them (and Raq has his own sarcastic comments on Robson's comments).
At one point, Robson explains why he knows so much about the Hodbarrow Mine (where a sea-wall once collapsed and flooded the mineshafts, killing numerous miners): decades ago, as a young TV reporter, he was doing a story on the mine; and (cue the tape) he has the footage of himself to prove it. At another point wondering why the some of the water contained by the Kielder Dam couldn't be distributed to other places that need it, he goes into one of his vintage tirades against bureaucratic idiocy--then smiles and moves to the next scene.
The programs could benefit from maps strategically inserted into various segments to help orient the viewer unfamiliar with the local geography. But it almost doesn't matter exactly where we are at any given point. Robson is a master storyteller and his sometimes ironic but always insightful commentary on the local attractions is reliably informative and entertaining.
Larry B | Ventura, California | October 2018