Friday, July 24, 2009

Pets win prizes

I watched a programme on BBC1 last night. That doesn't happen often. It was called "The Rat Pack", about as bog-standard a piece of slice-of-life telly as you can imagine. The BBC may be overpaying certain of its stars but it's good to see that they can still make a series like this for the change they found down the back of Graham Norton's sofa. It was about two brothers whose business was ridding hysterical Londoners of rats. But really it was about their dog Charlie, a Jack Russell who had found, late in life, a true purpose to existence; clamping rats in his teeth and shaking them until their necks broke. The producers made it clear at the top of the programme that this was going to happen and so you had to hang around for the money shot, which came, as ever, near the end. It only worked out because one of the brothers took the precaution of putting the rat in a bucket, thereby making it near impossible for Charlie to fail. You can only conclude that TV viewers have no problem with cruelty to animals, providing it's the right animal dishing out the cruelty and the right one on the receiving end.


  1. My Whippet has a habit of catching rabbits but what do you do with a dead rabbit in a public park? I feel a little conspicuous carrying it around until I find a bin to put it in. I've never 'pelted' a bunny so taking it home for the pot isn't an option.

  2. With "providing it's the right animal dishing out the cruelty and the right one on the receiving end" I think you are right on the money.

    My wife was watching this with enthusiasm right up until the point when they found a dead cat. Channel quickly changed; Charlie the dog just another particle of tv ephemera.

  3. Although the rat ended up in the bucket (of his own accord), it still managed to escape Charlie at that turn and run up the drainpipe - leading to, surely, the programme makers dream of one of the brothers saying, 'he is literally a rat up a drain pipe'.

    Showing animals mauling other animals to death happens all the time on nature shows - zebras and lions, killer whales and seals etc - so it's no different really to show a dog and a rat; it's just that it's on the doorstep that somehow it seems more real.

  4. Victoria1:50 pm

    I didn't see last week's programme - I sat down to eat my dinner in front of the TV last night only to find that BBC1's primetime 'entertainment' was a couple of youths sitting on a doorstep watching rats nosing around a trap in the gleeful expectation of a juicy death. I sent a complaint email to the BBC saying, what next, setting dogs on rats in a pit for a bit of 18thc style entertainment? And lo, it turns out they've pre-empted me with this rat in a bucket thing. I can't believe they've made three hours of this shit.