Shepherdess who cut me out from the flock: As it emerges the marriage of Yorkshire farmer’s wife Amanda Owen is in trouble, her stepdaughter reveals the other not-so-bucolic drama viewers WON’T have seen
When news emerged this week that Yorkshire shepherdess Amanda Owen’s marriage was in crisis, her stepdaughter Rosie (husband Clive’s daughter from his first marriage) might arguably have been forgiven if she’d raised a little cheer.
According to Rosie, mother-of-nine Amanda — who found fame as the glamorous shepherdess in a miniskirt, star of the hit TV show Our Yorkshire Farm — is the reason why she and her father have been largely estranged for the past 16 years.
Yet Rosie, an artist who lives with her husband and three children in Cumbria — just a 20-minute drive over the county border from her old family home, Ravenseat, the location for the Channel 5 series — feels ‘desperately sorry’ for her dad, knowing the pain that the marital situation, which is understood to have been going on for some months, will have caused him.
‘Dad will be absolutely miserable. He adores Amanda. He’d do anything for her,’ says Rosie, 34.
It emerged that shepherdess Amanda Owen’s marriage to husband Clive was in crisis, but her stepdaughter Rosie (pictured) said Amanda is the reason she is estranged from her father
‘It [the TV series] was never Clive’s scene. I think he enjoyed it a little bit, but, you know, it has all gone to Amanda’s head.
‘It [the Owens’ split] doesn’t do much for her image, but she’s going to go far. She’ll be on Loose Women next.
‘They would stay together for ever if it was up to my dad. But after all this fame, it was just a matter of time.’
Rosie paints a very different picture to the one familiar from television of Amanda and the bucolic ideal of life on the family’s 2,000-acre working farm in Upper Swaledale, North Yorkshire.
Viewers have fallen in love with the Owens and their brood of nine ‘free-range’ children, who are aged between four and 20.
The show is in its fifth series and attracting 2.9 million viewers — and is said to have made the Owens millionaires.
Not that Rosie can bear to watch it. ‘The first few times I tried I found it absolutely heartbreaking,’ she says.
‘If they weren’t on the telly, I would just be someone without a relationship with her father. But now I’m a woman whose dad is known for being a father, when he’s not a father to me.’
Rosie said she feels ‘sorry’ for her dad Clive, knowing the pain the situation with Amanda (both pictured), which is understood to have been going on for months, will have caused him
If Rosie sounds bitter, she believes she has good grounds.
She was nine when her parents separated and she, her mother and brother moved out of Ravenseat to a house in Kirkby Stephen.
Although she doesn’t recall the timeline precisely, Rosie believes that Clive, 68, met Amanda, now 47, a 6ft 2in former model who was then in her early 20s, a few weeks later.
Amanda, who grew up in Huddersfield, the daughter of a engineer and a part-time model and typist, wasn’t from a farming background.
The well-known story is that she had fallen in love with the countryside through books, and started work as a trainee shepherdess when she was 21.
She met Clive when she went to his farm to borrow a male sheep — a tup — and Clive was ‘quite taken’ with her.
Not long afterwards, someone — Rosie can’t remember who — pointed Amanda out and told her that she was her father’s new girlfriend.
‘She was so pretty,’ Rosie recalls. ‘Dad was absolutely mesmerised by this woman, he loved her instantly.’
Far from resenting her presence, Rosie says she was keen from the outset to have a close relationship with her dad’s ‘beautiful’ girlfriend and that their relationship started well, with Amanda buying wetsuits for her and her older brother Robert and taking them outdoor swimming.
But she has vivid memories of her relationship with Amanda becoming strained soon afterwards.
‘I remember I was sitting on my dad’s knee in their living room, and she came in and looked at me in a way that made me feel there was something disgusting about it,’ she recalls. ‘After that, I never really tried to get any affection from him in front of her.’
Rosie was 13 and a bridesmaid when her father married Amanda, and recalls feeling ‘very hormonal’ and confused about her feelings before the wedding.
‘After the wedding there was barely any communication [between Rosie and Amanda], although I remember being so excited when Raven [Amanda and Clive’s first child] was born.
‘I loved her dearly and would go up to Ravenseat to play with her. Sometimes they would let me have her overnight at our home in Kirkby.
‘I was called up to Ravenseat when Reuben [Amanda’s second child] was born, to look after Raven. I remember going in and being absolutely astounded by Amanda, this amazing woman who had given birth at home. I said: ‘Isn’t he beautiful!’ And she just ignored me.
‘I just felt so uncomfortable and unwanted up there — my dad was following this woman around like a lost puppy — that I stopped going.’
Rosie paints a very different picture to the one familiar from TV show Our Yorkshire Farm (pictured) of Amanda and the bucolic ideal of life on the farm in Upper Swaledale
While there are, of course, two sides to every story and Amanda’s recollection of these events may differ considerably, Rosie is adamant that neither Clive nor Amanda made enough effort to ease her through the transition to having a stepmother, or reassure her that it posed no threat to her relationship with her dad.
Although it is not uncommon for parent-child, or parent-stepchild, relationships to go awry in adolescence, most are mended in adulthood. But that, sadly, has not been the case for Rosie.
She was 18 and had just given birth to her own child, Layla, now 16, the last time she was in the same room as Amanda.
‘I went up to Ravenseat and Amanda, who had three children of her own by then, didn’t say: ‘She’s beautiful. Well done. Congratulations.’ She just stalked past.’
Although Rosie says she craved a relationship with her stepmother to such an extent that she has dreamt about them becoming friends numerous times over the years, the real heartbreak comes from her estrangement from her dad.
‘I’ve tried and tried to build a relationship with my father but we can go for a year at a time without speaking,’ she says.
‘I don’t know if it’s because I’m a link to his past, or if she [Amanda] doesn’t like women in general, but honestly, I’ve no idea why she doesn’t like me.’
So what does Clive, who calls in on Rosie in the run-up to Christmas each year and gives her £200 to buy his grandchildren presents, have to say on the subject?
‘He’s sorry and promises things will get better, but he’s just never been able to fix it,’ says Rosie tearfully.
The pain of her estrangement from her father and his family overwhelms her many times during the course of our interview.
‘He’ll hold his hands up and say: ‘I’ve done you wrong, I know I have.’ He’s not in denial about that. But all he says is: ‘I can’t speak for Amanada, you just never got on,’ — although that’s not fair. I was just a child and really wanted a relationship with her.’
Rosie adds: ‘I don’t feel he has ever been strong enough to say to her: ‘You have to make an effort, you need to be nice.’ He must have just gone along with it.’
As a hands-on father to Raven, 20, Reuben, 17, Miles, 15, Edith, 12, Violet, ten, Sidney, nine, Annas, seven, Clemmy, five, and Nancy, four, what sort of granddad is Clive, I wonder?
‘The time we went to Ravenseat [seven years ago], Layla asked him if she could call him granddad and he said: ‘Just call me Clive. I’d feel old,’ ‘ says Rosie.
‘He has barely seen his grandchildren over the years, so has no real relationship with them.
‘The insecurities and self-esteem issues I’ve had because of this have been huge.’
Amanda is estimated to have made a million pounds from her various enterprises — as well as TV appearances she has written books, launched the streaming channel Ewe Tube in partnership with Premier Inn, which is designed to help fans sleep, and opened a cafe to serve the thousands who travel to Upper Swaledale for a glimpse of the famous farm.
Meanwhile, Rosie has struggled at times as a single mother. ‘I have had some tough times and they have rarely helped me out,’ she says.
Rosie believes that Clive, 68, met Amanda (both pictured), now 47, a 6ft 2in former model who was then in her early 20s, a few weeks after her parents separated
But she is ever hopeful of a reconciliation with her father and hopes to one day have a relationship with her half-siblings, too.
And in spite of everything, she hopes for all their sakes that the Owens’ marital ‘rocky patch’ can be healed.
‘I saw him at traffic lights near my house last week and he said: ‘Oh, do you think we should talk now?’ I said: ‘Yes, maybe,’ and then he drove off because the lights changed.’
Although Rosie feels sad to be unable to comfort her dad at this difficult time, she says she is too nervous to just turn up at Ravenseat uninvited.
The statement this week confirming the Owens’ marital problems followed intense speculation locally, after Amanda was seen at a nearby rental property they own.
The couple said: ‘With the TV show and the books, we’ve always aimed to show the reality of life on the farm, and just like any marriage we have our stresses and strains, coupled with all the complexities of what we do on the farm and bringing up nine kids.
‘We’re a normal family and we’ve never said our marriage is perfect. Unfortunately, the constant intrusion into our lives from the media has amplified a rocky patch that we’re going through. We ask that the media respect our privacy while we’re going through this.’
The Owens were approached by the Mail for comment but declined to respond further to Rosie’s allegations.
Despite the plea for privacy, Amanda appeared on ITV’s This Morning on Tuesday, taking part in a cookery segment with three of her daughters, following an earlier interview on Zoe Ball’s breakfast show to discuss her new book.
If the couple are unable to patch up their differences, this latest series of Our Yorkshire Farm — portraying, as it does, their idyllic family life — will surely be the last.
‘Given my experience with her, I believe viewers have been blinded to the real Amanda,’ says Rosie.
‘But still, I hope they sort things out for the sake of the children — and my dad, because I know that’s what he’ll want, above all else.’