The Ruse – which may yet be capitalised in a footnote to a particularly extensive history of the arts during corona times – was greeted with derision. But Channel 4 hung tough, and hung its cameras on various dogs owned by people who, by stretching the word to the very limits of its already considerable elasticity, could be described as celebrities – and then it unleashed the hounds. It chopped the results into four half-hour episodes, found someone to do the voiceover – Kevin McCloud – and gave the results a name: Celebrity Snoop Dogs. There was doubtless some kernel of optimism that the results would afford the channel a kind of cult, so-bad-it’s-good hit. Who could resist, I suspect the thought ran, a canine-inflected Through the Keyhole? Kernels of optimism, of course, may be the largest contributor to human misery the world has ever known.
Celebrity Snoop Dogs has now completed its run and – let us hope – been taken off to a farm upstate, where it will live out the rest of its days in peace. The final episode followed the traditional format. The concept – dogs, cameras, celebrity homes – is laboriously spelled out. The ergonomics of the camera harnesses are described in detail. The dogs – this time a labradoodle called Monkey and a pair of American spaniels called, oh God, who cares – roam around a Tudor pile in Wiltshire and modern shininess in Surrey. McCloud does an unexpectedly good job of narrating without descending too far into archness, despite being forced to call the dogs’ owners “their humans”. There are one-line descriptions of anything that could feasibly have caught the viewer’s eye. A definition of a love seat was this week’s highlight. Invented in the late-17th-century, appaz.Reviewers have been urged to keep the reveal a secret, so I will draw a veil over quite who appears this time for the last 10 minutes to explain why they love their house, why they love their dog(s) and what particular concatenation of circumstances led them to agree to partake in Celebrity Snoop Dogs . (The suspicion looms large throughout that for a not-inconsiderable portion of them, accountants’ desperate urgings have played a role.)
Watch that plate of cookies! A Dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 – 100,000 times more acute as that of humans.
The best bit of Celebrity Snoop Dogs was usually the Petplan insurance advert that preceded it, wherein a mother flanked by her two children and holding the family dog speaks effusively to camera about how the dog is “like my child. People laugh at me but he is like my third baby.” Her children sit beside her looking … well, like their mother has just told them the dog sits on a par with both of them. Expressions that cannot be rendered on the page, with only the paltry resource of the written word at my disposal. Best bit. By far.
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