My Life As An Animal is a show in which two seemingly intelligent people, untainted by mental illness, agree with BBC Three Producers that they will live with pigs for a week. They do this either because they’re so desperate to be on television that they’ll happily smear themselves in wet, gluggy manure to get there or (less likely) they’ve been badly advised on what the content of the show will be.
The format can be broken down like this:
- Two Members of the Public meet Terry Nutkins
- He tells them what pigs do.
- They watch pigs snuffling about all day and doing very little.
- MotPs are thrown into the pig pen where they live for a week.
- They make friends or enemies with pigs, snuffle a lot and eat pig-feed.
- They watch pigs get killed in the now-compulsory abattoir shot.
- The end.
So – a sublime journey. How deeply will the human psyche be probed? What valuable information will we gleaned as we make adults scamper about on all fours, sleeping in straw and making grunting noises?
The contestants, Richard and Lyndsey, began by being ordered into clothes from a wheelbarrow that had been smeared with pig urine and poo. ‘It smells!’ they cry, stating the profoundly obvious. And they continue to state the obvious throughout the show.
- ‘This is literally a pigsty’
- ‘They smell’
- ‘They keep banging into me’
- ‘Urgh, it smells round here’
- ‘Oooh, it really stinks’
Richard – the first contestant – appeared to enjoy the process. He learned that ear-sucking on a waxy lughole is the very tenderest of intimate expressions among piggies, and he set to work nibbling ears like a pro. Soon enough he was kipping among them like he was one of their own, having grown worryingly close within a matter of hours.
Lyndsey, a Radio Five Live DJ, had a harder time living as a pig for a week. There were tears and tantrums during the early part of her stay when she realisd she’d be sleeping among them. She wanted her own sty, she complained – not realising that would obliterate the whole point of this stupid outing. Later, when a piggy nipped her on the lower leg she roared like a baby and demanded she get to go home. But then, persuaded by the crew, she got back into it and spent the rest of the day running around haystacks. The soppy cow.
Aside from that, ‘having totally immersed themselves in their pig-lives’, they watched pigs do sex and then snuff it in a slaughterhouse. They swapped places so that Lyndsey could see she’d actually got the better end of the deal as she sampled the non-organic pen. But still it was impossible to work out what we’re meant to have learned. Something about farming techniques? Something about human nature?
Whatever it was, it completely escaped me. The suspicion is this is another outing in which the title and concept are all, and that the actual content of the show doesn’t actually matter.
Did it not occur to anyone that the idea is completely and morbidly pointless? ‘It’s a new low!’ they seem to be shouting over in BBC Three-land. ‘Let’s celebrate it! Here – smear yourself in some shit!’
Watching the show, when the contestants complained – particularly Lyndsey who took to punching her stymates on the snout – you wanted to grab them by their lapels and dash their heads against the nearest trough, screaming at them that, as they’ve decided to live like pigs, they should stop complaining (in human) about how much they hate it. And what’s more, if they were going to do this bullshit experiment properly, they should be stark bollock naked. And the only human contact should come from the farmer. And if it was unwelcome contact they wouldn’t be able to complain beyond a terrifying, shrill squeal.
But then you realise that hidden camera footage of an obese farmer boning a mute, naked media type in a cold field wouldn’t make great television – but then, neither does this shit.