Even as a young boy Reuben Owen was way ahead of his years.
The eldest son of nine children born to Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen and her husband Clive, Reuben was just eight when he first appeared on our TV screens, lugging bales of wool around his parents’ remote Swaledale sheep farm and hunting down moles running riot across their 2,000 acres of land.
He could birth a lamb and wield a wrench long before he knew how to read or write.
After the Owens’ debut on a 2011 documentary about the Yorkshire Dales, the family became unlikely household names through their own Channel 5 show, Our Yorkshire Farm, with shepherdess Amanda the stand-out star.
Now, a dozen harvests on, and having toiled away quietly in the background, it appears Reuben has outgrown his famous mother in more ways than one.
Filming on Our Yorkshire Farm came to an end in 2021 after five series, with the final episodes airing last year amid rumours Amanda, 48, was having an affair and the collapse of her 22-year marriage to Clive, 68.
But while both husband and wife have since sought to reinvigorate their careers via rival shows, it is Reuben, now 20, whose popularity has soared.
While both Amanda and Clive have since sought to reinvigorate their careers via rival shows, it is Reuben, now 20, whose popularity has soared. Pictured: Amanda Owens and son Reuben
Some are wondering if Reuben’s growing profile is behind a recent decision by Amanda to put her marital strife behind her and rejoin forces with both her estranged husband and grown-up son in another TV comeback
The former apprentice mechanic has been courted by TV executives who have spotted the multi-generational appeal of his no-nonsense demeanour and work ethic — not to mention the charm of his burgeoning romance with girlfriend Sarah Dow, which he has documented on social media.
In much the same way as farming contractor Kaleb Cooper became the must-watch star for younger viewers on Jeremy Clarkson’s Amazon show Clarkson’s Farm, Reuben is TV gold.
As a source close to the family put it to the Mail this week: ‘If anyone’s going to be a star now it’s Reuben. He has a big social media following and has the same charming way about him as his dad.’
Reuben and Sarah have been together since December 2021. The pair share a passion for farm machinery and videos Reuben has uploaded of them tackling repairs together have been a hit on TikTok and Instagram.
Amanda’s affair has tarnished her wholesome image
Sarah’s regular appearances with Reuben on Beyond The Yorkshire Farm have also proved to be ratings winners.
Indeed, earlier this year it emerged that the Channel 5 spin-off featuring Reuben and his father Clive embarking on an ‘exciting digging business’ had drawn in 1.7 million viewers, more than double those for Amanda Owen’s Farming Lives, a More 4 show featuring the Yorkshire Shepherdess.
Such was Reuben’s popularity among young and old alike that Clive announced he was considering stepping back from the spotlight to let his son take centre stage.
And now some are wondering if Reuben’s growing profile is behind a recent decision by Amanda to put her marital strife behind her and rejoin forces with both her estranged husband and grown-up son in another TV comeback.
It was revealed earlier this week that filming has started on Our Farm Next Door, a new Channel 4 series featuring the trio working together to renovate an ancient farmhouse next door to Ravenseat, the hill farm made famous on Our Yorkshire Farm. A source told the Mail that Amanda’s U-turn may have come because of fears that her tumultuous private life had tarnished the wholesome family image which made Our Yorkshire Farm such a hit — and her such a star.
Filming on Our Yorkshire Farm came to an end in 2021 after five series, with the final episodes airing last year amid rumours Amanda, 48, was having an affair and the collapse of her 22-year marriage to Clive, 68. Pictured: Amanda and Clive
As well as countless TV appearances and speaking engagements, she has released a series of books. ‘But people turned up to see her on book tours because they loved the family life of the Owens, the children and the relationship with Clive,’ the source added.
‘Once it became clear she didn’t want to be married to Clive any more, that image disappeared for good.
‘She knows the only way to have any success on TV is for Clive and Reuben to be involved and to put on a united front.’
Brand expert Nick Ede predicted this week that Reuben will be key to the success of the new show and would help bolster his mother’s image. ‘Having her on the show alone probably wouldn’t be successful because she polarises people,’ he said. ‘But seeing the interaction between her, Reuben and his girlfriend is what will get the ratings.’
It’s certainly something of an irony, given Amanda and Clive’s split, that the remote farmhouse the Owens are renovating for their new show, known locally as Anty Johns, was bought with money earned from their TV success, to provide security for the family.
Their latest venture is certainly an ambitious one. Anty Johns — the Grade II-listed property’s official name is High Smithy Holme — has lain derelict for 60 years.
Reaching it involves a 20-minute hike from the nearest road or a drive in a vehicle able to traverse the rugged terrain. With two bedrooms and an attached barn, the Owens have had to work out how get a water supply to the property.
Step forward Reuben, who now runs his own groundworks company specialising in drainage and has already brought in his machinery to help remove what remains of the collapsed roof.
The Owens also own The Firs, a six-bedroom 17th-century cottage purchased as a holiday let and rented out at £175 a night, although since her split from Clive, Amanda is believed to have made the cottage her home.
Clive, meanwhile, remains at Ravenseat, where he and Amanda first set eyes on each other in 1996 when the then 21-year-old shepherdess was sent to collect a ram from tenant farmer Clive.
They married four years later and their eldest child, daughter Raven, was born in 2001. Reuben, Miles, Edith, Violet, Sidney, Anna, Clemmie and Nancy, now six, followed.
A source told the Mail that ‘if anyone’s going to be a star now it’s Reuben’ and he has a big social media following
For four years from 2018, the Owens, their free-range, nature-loving children and their flock of sheep delighted the nation with their bucolic existence.
But rumours of ‘trouble at t’farm’ began circulating in 2021 amid reports that Amanda was spending nights away at The Firs.
While the formal announcement of their split finally came in June 2022, the pair had, in fact, quietly separated 18 months earlier.
‘It wouldn’t have been Clive’s choice but I think he’s at a point where he’s accepted the break-up now,’ the source said.
‘They are sharing the care of the kids so still see each other regularly. He does most of the work on the farm and, I think, now he’s come to terms with the separation, he just wants to get on with his life.’
Despite Amanda’s attempts to downplay the separation, saying it was ‘not a big story’, it emerged in April this year she had been in a five-year romance with 71-year-old IT consultant, Robert Davies. They met in 2018 when he designed her personal website. He started accompanying her on book and theatre tours.
Their affair came to light after Robert’s wife, Tokyo investment banker Yasumi, found a handwritten note from Amanda in her husband’s car which read: ‘Life is too short and happiness is too rare. I love you.’
Yasumi, 56, said she recognised the handwriting from a signed copy of one of Amanda’s books. She is said to be in high dudgeon about the new show Amanda is filming with Clive and Reuben.
Reuben and his girlfriend will get ratings
Another source this week said: ‘She is furious and feels Amanda Owen is able to manipulate all the men around her.’
Locals say they often see the estranged couple together, driving along the roads close to the farm where they also still share the care of their sheep, goats, horses and hens.
The source who spoke to the Mail this week said: ‘Clive wants a quiet life and is happy to go along with this new programme despite being fully aware that Amanda is involved with someone else.
‘Everyone feels for him. He’s a good decent man who wants everyone to be happy.’
Whether or not the pair can recapture the magic of Our Yorkshire Farm is another matter.
In the end, the secret to the show’s success may well lie with the son they raised together.
And the Yorkshire Shepherdess may yet discover that when it comes to TV ratings, she is better off sticking with her human flock.