7 Nov 2020

Sports broadcaster whose lockdown canine commentary went viral

From Saturday Morning, 9:06 am on 7 November 2020
Andrew Cotter with Olive (r) and Mabel (l)

Andrew Cotter with Olive (r) and Mabel (l) Photo: supplied

Olive and Mabel are two labradors who've become social media stars thanks to a series of short, funny videos made by their owner, Scottish sports broadcaster Andrew Cotter.

Stuck at home with no work due to cancelled sports events, Cotter resorted to commentating on adorable but competitive dogs.

Apart from one person who accused him of starving the dogs so they'd eat faster on camera, Cotter tells Kim Hill he's received an overwhelming amount of love on their behalf.

"It's really nice to suddenly see that beneath all the shouty annoying people that are there on social media, there's actually a huge hinterland of people who are just nice people doing what they can to get through life and have a laugh at things."

All dogs are morale officers and mood-lifters, but Labradors are particularly clownish in a way that rubs off, he says.

"They are so relentlessly optimistic and cheery that they're just great dogs to have around."

During lockdown, it was especially easy to become a bit addicted to the dopamine fixes of making videos and watching them take off online - but cotter won't be selling Olive and Mabel out.

The dogs have been offered endorsement and merchandising deals but Cotter fears cashing in on them would corrupt their innocence.

He's had a number of invitations to do advertising voice-overs too but isn't interested in becoming a "parody commentator".

As a sports commentator, you have to sometimes be serious, Cotter says.

"Part of me is thinking how can I do the opening ceremony of the Olympics on the BBC and still have that credibility - if I ever had it, to be calling the big moments, the Wimbledon final, the masters, and people going 'that's the guy who talks to his dogs while they're eating or in a Zoom meeting or building flat-pack furniture.'

Andrew Cotter is the author of Olive, Mabel & Me: Life and Adventures with ​Two Very Good Dogs.