How the tale of the Yorkshire Shepherdess is heading to Hollywood

Amanda with her youngest child in March last year.''''Picture: Gerard Binks

Amanda with her youngest child in March last year.''''Picture: Gerard Binks

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THE HILLS of the Yorkshire Dales may not have much in common with the Hollywood Hills - but Swaledale may soon be headed to the big screen.

Amanda Owen’s life at Ravenseat has already been shown to millions thanks to her appearances on ITV’s The Dales, but her fame could be about to spread even further after the film rights to her book, The Yorkshire Shepherdess, were brought by one of the world’s biggest film studios, Warner Bros.

Amanda Owen with her daughter Annas in 2014.

Amanda Owen with her daughter Annas in 2014.

The book, released last year, tells how Amanda went from a rebellious child growing up in industrial Huddersfield, to living with her husband Clive and their eight children on a remote 2,000 acres hill farm in Swaledale.

Six films with Yorkshire at their heart
Amanda, 41, was approached by the company at the beginning of the year, and now it is all finalised, she will be working as a consultant as the film is being made to ensure the story of life in the Dales is kept authentic.

She said: “It’s been toing and froing since about February, sorting out contracts and finally it’s done - now they have 18 months to make the film.

“I will be involved as a consultant. I’ll be making sure they use the right breed of sheep - things of critical importance. The thing is, if you see something on television that you know all about, you don’t want to see any mistakes. So I’ll be watching and making sure that doesn’t happen.

“I’ll be sat there saying ‘you don’t want to do it like that’ - I certainly won’t be starring in it. But it should be someone with hands like shovels.”

Of course, she has her own ideas about who should take the starring role of her and her family - Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and their brood of six children.

“Everyone always ask, ‘who would play you in a story of your life’ and it’s not something you give a great deal of thought to,” she said. “But Brad and Angelina would be perfect - Brad, with his beard, is very rustic, and Angelina is just so beautiful. They have six children, and we have eight, so they’d know what they were doing.”

Despite appearing on The Dales, at literature festivals across the country, and entertaining more than 17,000 followers on Twitter, Amanda is keen to stress that most of the time, she can still be found “at the wrong end of a sheep”. In between all the jobs that come with running a 2,000 acre hill farm, she’s currently writing her second book, which should be out next Spring.

Speaking as she prepares sheep ready to be sold at market in Hawes tomorrow, she said: “The film won’t change what I have to do every day - none of it does,” she said. “None of it is made up, this is what I do every day. I don’t class myself as an author, I’m just someone who writes about their life and their workplace, which in my case, is somewhere pretty special. I have no delusions.”

As well as today’s sheep sale, and the forthcoming film, the Owens have “a few things in the pipeline” including a programme with presenter Ben Fogle, and another piece for ITV about animals giving birth.

“Watch this space,” says Amanda. “We lead a bit of a double life, we do the farming thing, chasing sheep about, and then we do these extras. It’s our way of diversifying.

“It’s not easy juggling all the things that need doing. Today, it’s all about beautification for these yows that off for sale. I’m in my waterproofs, covered in soap, washing their faces and legs ready for tomorrow. I’m very much keeping it real!”

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