AN ANIMAL lover who sparked national media furore over multi-coloured sheep has refuted claims his flock was mistreated.
Nathan Anderson-Dixon, who runs The Animal Company based in Sturston, loaned sheep to television tycoon Simon Cowell’s production company for filming of a forthcoming ITV game show Red or Black.
National newspapers, including The Mail and The Express, attacked makers of the programme, which is hosted by Ant and Dec, for using sheep that had been sprayed bright red.
They published quotes from animal rights campaigners that claimed painting the sheep was “stressful and frightening” for the animals but Mr Anderson-Dixon, whose family business supplies specially trained animals to film and television companies, insisted the sheep came to no harm.
Mr Anderson-Dixon, who was joined for filming in Roundhay Park in Leeds by Ashbourne Young Farmers member Ben Chadfield, from Parwich, said: “The articles said we used a toxic dye, which isn’t right. We used an edible food dye that we found advertised in the Farmers’ Guardian.
“They’ve made out we’ve popped to Halfords, bought some spray paint and sprayed them all over with it when, in fact, they were in their pen and it took about 10 minutes.
They weren’t in distress at all and the paint washed off as soon as it rained.
“It’s quite normal in farming to dye sheep. Farmers do it to identify their flock and also as a theft deterrent.” The new game show, which is reported to be the most expensive ever made, will screen in autumn and sees competitors playing to win £1 million by choosing either red or black on live TV.
Each of the challenges have a 50/50 outcome and, stage by stage, competitors will have to play the game of chance to progress to the £1 million prize.
Other challenges competitors will face include choosing the furthest travelling rocket, either red or black, or choosing between two trains — one of which will carry £1 million cash.
Mr Anderson-Dixon described presenters Ant and Dec as “real gentlemen” and “very funny and professional” during the filming.