Live: New Lost Dogs with Clare Balding searches for missing pets

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Tuesday: Live: Lost Dogs with Clare Balding (C5, 8pm)

During lockdown, Clare Balding learned something she found valuable – that TV isn’t as important to her as she thought.

That’s an amazing admission from someone with an enviably wonderful small screen career, one that has seen her travel the globe to front coverage of sporting events, not to mention her numerous productions on home soil.

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“(It) was a fantastic opportunity for me to have a sabbatical from television, which effectively I did, because all the events I was meant to work on got cancelled. And in my head, it triggered something, which was I really don’t need to be on television to have any sort of self-validation,” she explains.

Clare Balding with her beloved Archie (Image credit: Channel 5)Clare Balding with her beloved Archie (Image credit: Channel 5)
Clare Balding with her beloved Archie (Image credit: Channel 5)

So, if you see her pop up in something now, “it’s because I love it and I love the event – it’s not about me being on television. I see it as a storyteller’s role on telly.”

She adds: “I’m very conscious of trying to get the most out of life, generally. I want to have new experiences, fresh experiences, I want to be challenged. So my rules are: is it exciting, is it interesting, will I learn something, and will I have fun? And if those are affirmative, I will do it.”

This past few weeks have seen her back on the box with a project that certainly ticked those boxes – she made her debut as the Beeb’s Wimbledon anchor, taking over from Sue Barker. And now she’s popping up again, tackling another topic close to her heart.

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Balding fronts Channel 4’s annual Crufts coverage so is the ideal person to take charge of a new three-part programme that aims to reunite missing dogs with their owners. It’s a show that’s sure to tug on the heartstrings and may inspire a few tears. As an animal-lover (her autobiography is entitled My Animals and Other Family), Balding herself may join in too.

“Our dogs are not just pets, they’re part of the family and if one goes missing, it’s a traumatic experience,” she claims. “With Channel 5 leading the charge, I’m looking forward to helping reunite owners with their dogs and to share tips on how to keep our animals safe.”

According to pet insurance company PetGuard, 40% of the public have had a pet go missing. Sadly, around 60% these animals are never recovered.

Hopefully Lost Dogs Live can help redress that trend. As well as making appeals on the programme, various roving reporters will be sent across the country to hear stories from people who have either had a happy ending or are still hopeful of one.

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The opening edition sees Storm Huntley travel to the Isle of Wight to hear from a family who have spent six years searching for their spaniel Fern, while in Cornwall, JB Gill meets the sniffer dogs whose training has turned them into experts at tracking down fellow pooches. Dr Amir Khan also reveals the importance of bonding with a puppy early on, and Michelle Ackerley meets a group of volunteer pet detectives who spend every spare moment using a variety of techniques to reunite missing and stolen hounds with their families.

As for Balding, she may not feel the need to be on TV, but if just one lost dog is found, it’s necessary for her to be there.

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