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The Shepherd

the shepherd of the hills, the shepherd's diet
The Shepherd is a 1975 novella by Frederick Forsyth


  • 1 Plot
  • 2 History
  • 3 Notable readings and adaptations
  • 4 References


The Shepherd relates the story of a De Havilland Vampire pilot, going home on Christmas Eve 1957, whose aircraft suffers a complete electrical failure en route from RAF Celle note: in fact, Celle had ceased to be an RAF station less than a month previously; see link in northern Germany to RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk Lost in fog and low on fuel, he is met and led or shepherded to a disused RAF dispersal field by the pilot of a De Havilland Mosquito fighter-bomber of World War II vintage, who has apparently been sent up to guide him in

His attempts to find a rational explanation for his eventual rescue prove as troublesome as his experience However, some time after he lands at the airfield—the fictional RAF Minton—he learns that his saviour was Johnny Kavanagh, a wartime RAF pilot who had been stationed at Minton and who had guided crippled bombers home The Vampire pilot also learns that Kavanagh disappeared over the North Sea in his Mosquito on his last mission, on Christmas Eve 1943, exactly fourteen years before


Forsyth created this original work as a Christmas gift to his first wife Carrie after she requested a ghost story be written for her Written on Christmas Day 1974, and published near that time a year later, the idea came while trying to think of a setting away from the typical haunted homes, and seeing planes flying overhead Many have speculated references to preexisting RAF folklore While Forsyth is a former RAF pilot and could have heard and adapted such a story either with or without the intent to do so no references or anecdotal evidence have been put forward to support such claims

Notable readings and adaptations

The story has been broadcast "nearly every Christmas since 1979" in Canada on the CBC Radio One news programme As It Happens Read by Alan Maitland, the recording always airs on the last episode on or before Christmas Eve

On 14 December 2014, actor Nigel Anthony performed an original adaptation by Amber Barnfather of The Shepherd, with music and sound effects, at St Clement Danes, the Central Church of the Royal Air Force, in London The performance, in aid of the RAF Benevolent Fund, was introduced by Frederick Forsyth Sound design was by David Chilton, with a cappella pieces from the Saint Martin Singers

On Christmas Eve 2016, BBC Radio 3 broadcast a new adaptation by Amber Barnfather for Between the Ears, performed by actor Luke Thompson Sound design was by David Chilton, with music and mouth/body percussion by the Saint Martin Singers specially recorded for the production at the church of St Giles in the Fields, and Vampire aircraft sound effects specially recorded at the Royal Air Force Museum London Between the Ears: The Shepherd won a Gold Radio Award in the 2017 New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards In April 2017, Between the Ears won the ‘Most Original Podcast’ Gold Award at the inaugural British Podcast Awards


  1. ^ "'Fireside' Al Maitland reads Frederick Forsyth's The Shepherd" CBC Radio CBC Radio One December 22, 2017 Retrieved December 22, 2017 
  2. ^ Between the Ears: The Shepherd
  3. ^ The Spectator - Christmas Special - Radio - Kate Chisholm
  4. ^ Radio Times - “The best radio for Christmas 2016” - Jane Anderson
  5. ^ "New York Festivals World’s Best Radio Programs"
  6. ^ "British Podcast Awards 2017 Winners"
  • A Bowdoin Van Riper 2004 Imagining flight: aviation and popular culture Texas A&M University Press pp 125–26 ISBN 978-1-58544-300-0 
  • Mary Lou Finlay 2009 The As It Happens Files: Radio That May Contain Nuts Random House of Canada p 33 ISBN 978-0-307-39663-1 

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The Shepherd Information about

The Shepherd

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    The Shepherd beatiful post thanks!


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