Animal Rescue Live: Supervet Special interviews
Professor Noel Fitzpatrick Interview
Professor Noel Fitzpatrick talks us through Channel 4’s new show Animal Rescue Live: Supervet Special. Presenting alongside Steve Jones and Kate Quilton, Noel explains why he got involved in the programme and how he feels stepping into the world of live television.
What’s the idea of the show?
The idea is quite a lot bigger than it looks on the surface.
On the surface, it’s a show about adopting pets, adopting animals that otherwise don’t have hope, but it’s actually a far greater concept than that.
I’m very upset with the way the world is at the moment, constantly generating bad news. I wanted to inspire families, particularly children, that love being represented by the love between an animal and a human, could in fact put a very nice bandage around the ills of the world.
For me, the premise of the show is about how I can bring love in the shape of a bundle of joy of an animal into a family.
The Supervet is all about ensuring an animal remains within their loving family.
Will Animal Rescue: Supervet Special bring us another point of view?
In many ways, we are trying to bring hope to a creature that has been abandoned, without hope; and bring hope into the lives of human beings in a family that, actually, until that animal is among them, don’t realise how much hope that animal can bring them.
To a very large extent, it’s a mini-metaphor for what we ought to be doing in society, and that is bringing love and hope, as opposed to hatred or greed or badness.
How will the show persuade viewers to adopt from their local shelter?
My job is to act as a messenger for societal responsibility, to inspire families of all ages across the United Kingdom that one small gesture, which is to bring an animal into your family, not only will bring your family fulfilment, love and hope; but also speak to a wider picture of what puts the ‘great’ in Great Britain.
We are fortunate that on the whole we are a nation of people who really do take moral responsibility for animals, in a way that is exemplary on the global stage. I want to rejoice in that, in the fact that we show our compassion through our respect of animals. If I can imbue that into kids and families across the United Kingdom, regardless of age, colour, race or creed, then it’s a noble goal.
Unconditional love, which is what an animal will share with you, transcends any bias that will come from your colour, race or creed.
What is the benefit of adopting an animal from a shelter?
We all have had ups-and-downs in life, and these animals have had significant ups-and-downs, and we portray some of the stories behind these animals.
My aspiration is that people will identify their own struggles and will realise that it’s an excellent thing to do, to bring an animal into your home and give hope to that animal that otherwise was totally abandoned.
I hope to do a very important thing and that is to make people think. I hope to make them think that adopting an animal from a rescue centre is a magnificent thing to do.
It will bring 100x more, in terms of self-respect, in terms of love, in terms of affection than you could ever give to the animal. Everything you give to them, they will give to you one-hundred-fold.
Where do you see an animal in the family hierarchy?
I have steadfastly refused to use the term ‘ownership’ in The Supervet and we’ve done now sixty hours of television, with many more to go. I have always considered the family as mum and dad, sister and brother to the animal, because I’ve always wanted to be a messenger that these animals are integral to our family.
They go through our ups-and-downs, our divorces, our boss being nasty to us, our illnesses, whatever it is that’s going on in our lives. I want to change public perception that from the perspective of love, animals are not as important as people; because in real life, for many people, a companion animal is an integral member of a family unit and in fact the creature with whom we share our soul, and our innermost thoughts. Often we cannot do that with people, because they may judge us, whilst with our animal friends the love is unconditional. For disabled people an animal can be a lifeline, for mentally impaired people an animal can be their eyes on the world, for a child an animal can be a sibling, for an old person, a constant companion, and for all people an animal friend is potentially the dearest friend you can ever have. It’s my job in this program to translate this possibility for love and hope to everyone in the UK and beyond.
What are the most common causes of abandonment?
Usually it’s because a family splits up or somebody dies, but sometimes it can be really quite sad, and animals are just turned out on the streets for whatever reason or they’re coming from a very bad nefarious background where they’re bred and then abandoned, which is appalling.
I think the public have got to understand one very important thing and that is animals don’t judge like human beings judge. They’re generally not born bad, they’re generally conditioned to be bad by their environment and by how we treat them.
To a very large extent our relationship with a companion animal is the purest form of human relationship, because if we’re good to that animal, that animal will be good to us. If we are bad to that animal, that animal may indeed turn out bad, and therefore our relationship with a companion animal is a mirror of our soul.
I would like the programme to be a mirror of the soul for every individual in the United Kingdom who would like companionship, who does genuinely care, who cares about building a society that breaks down walls of bias and bigotry and moves towards compassion and understanding. We’re all in this together and we should look after each other, both animal and human – and this will absolutely make society better and build a better and a kinder world.
How do you feel about presenting live?
I haven’t done a lot of live TV before, I am excited about it because there’s a real live intimacy about it in terms of speaking through the television to somebody who may be in their kitchen, or their bedroom, or their living room and you are trying to explain to them the merits of the ethos of love, and the merits of considering rescuing an abandoned animal which they may not have even considered before, which could bring such joy and hope into their lives.
I’m excited about the intimacy, the immediacy, and the accessibility of it. This is real life, and in real time, we are going to be talking to you directly and trying to make your life and the life of an animal immeasurably better through companionship and love.
Do you think it will be difficult to manage the emotions a powerful and emotive show will bring?
No, not at all. It’s what I have to do every single day in my consulting room.
It’s actually no different than having somebody in my consulting room, holding their hand and listening to their issues, trying to sort through the background of both their crisis and the crisis of their animal and trying to find a solution that’s fair, a solution that is full of compassion, and a solution that ultimately brings peace to that animal, and bring love into a family, whatever the outcome.
Are you looking forward to working with Steve?
It’s absolutely fantastic to work with somebody who’s truly talented at what they do and is a volcanic eruption of enthusiasm. He literally smiles all of the time – it’s contagious. He’s also one of the best live presenters I’ve ever seen – he can fly
Steve Jones Interview
Steve Jones brings his presenting expertise to Animal Rescue Live: Supervet Special.
Working alongside Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, Steve tells us how they will encourage the people of Great Britain to visit their local shelter.
What is Animal Rescue Live: Supervet Special all about?
Our mission statement is to rehome as many rescue animals as possible over the course of five days, five live shows, starting at 8pm every night, in August.
We’re live for an hour, we’re going to ship as many of these glorious rescue animals as possible.
That’s what we aim to do, and that’s what we’re going to do.
Rehoming as many animals in five live shows over five days is a tough task. Are you prepared for it?
We will definitely need to be working with purpose if we want to get it done in the time we’re on air. Any live show, there’s an electric energy to it, and I think the urgency of the situation will be reflected within the show.
There’s a lot of animals that are waiting to become pets in cat and dog homes across the country, that are on a timeline themselves, so we’ve got to get it out there with urgency and show that these animals deserve a good home.
Are you looking forward to sharing a show with some unscripted, lively, animals?
Yes the principle message is ‘please help these animals’… but at the same time we can't get away from the fact that we will be surrounded by animals and as we all know animals are an absolute riot. That unpredictable element of our show will hopefully showcase why you need an animal in your life - so the message should be more like ‘please help these animals because they’re bloody fun and they will make your life better!’
What have you learnt from spending time in these shelters?
Wherever you go, there are far too many animals in these shelters, which is saddening.
Through no fault of their own they are waiting for the right person to walk through the door, and thankfully, there are a lot of professional people working in these shelters who rehabilitate these animals and get them into the best possible shape for when those who might want to adopt arrive. They’ve had lots of experience around people before you even get there, so they tend to be really sweet nice deserving animals.
There’s an animal for everyone, you’ll be surprised when you turn up what animal you might fall in love with. You might arrive wanting a dog and leave with a rat called Emile. I met a rat called Emile in Bath Cats and Dogs home, total sweet heart!
You might think, ‘I can’t have a dog because of x,y and z’, but there still might be a specific type of dog that could be suitable to you: a dog that doesn’t need human attention all day long, that you are okay to leave in your house for a few hours.
My point is, you won't know until you visit your local rescue home. There’s a right pet for the right person, you might just not know what that pet is until you go and speak to the professionals and explain your situation. Go to rescue home and meet these animals.
Are you looking forward to working with Noel?
I’m a huge fan of Noel’s show and what he does.
It’s very rare to meet a legitimate genius, and Noel Fitzpatrick is my first. He’s super intense about what he does and that’s exactly what the show needs. It needs somebody inspiring that has a message of hope and love. I'm pretty sure he prefers animals to humans. So he’s on the right show!
Personally, I think he’s a National Treasure. This guy is doing stuff at his practice in Godalming that people come from all over the world to see. Things that baffle his contemporaries, if he has any. People bring animals from all over the world for him to help. He’s just a marvel.
As for our show - It’s the first time he’s done live TV so that’s going to be exciting – to get Noel Fitzpatrick unedited, it’s going to be a treat for all of us.
Who are the biggest lovers of pets?
Most people. If you’ve got a heart in your chest and you like cuddling something that is cute and furry, you’re going to be an animal person. Occasionally there’ll be a bad element, who want to hurt animals for their own gain, or think of them as lesser than us, but I think people are generally good, and animals bring out the best in all of us.
They say Britain is a “nation of animal lovers”, and I truly want to believe that. In fact myself, Noel and Kate are counting on it. Let's prove that it's not just a line we roll out every time a story is written about someone being horrible to an animal. Let's get these animals, who are programmed to love, out of these shelters and into our homes. We will all be richer for it.
From a glitzy Formula 1 pit-lane to a cat and dog shelter in Newcastle – would it be fair to say you’ve had an interesting career?
Absolutely, you have to be diverse, and selective, I always try and choose projects that I feel a connection with. I love cars so F1 was a no brainer, I love animals so Animal Rescue Live is a no brainer….as for Sex Box - draw your own conclusions, ha!
Yes I'd say you have to be diverse nowadays in TV, you’ve got to have a few strings to your bow, so here comes the next one: doing a live pet rescue show. Bring it!
Animal Rescue Live: Supervet Special is on Channel 4 from Monday 7th August at 8pm.