Sick parrots, gay dogs and the king of PR men

`Ever seen two male dogs mounting each other? Course you have. Why do you think they do it?'
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The Independent Culture
I WENT up to London the other day to see the Monet exhibition - or, more accurately, to see the queues for the Monet exhibition - but before I could even get there, who should I bump into but my old friend Adrian Wardour-Street, the king of public relations. Or, if Max Clifford should happen to read this, the heir apparent, at least, to public relations.

We merged into a little authentic coffee bar, and Adrian asked me if I wanted a "latte".

"What's that?" I said.

"I'm not entirely sure, but everyone's asking for it these days, so I do as well. Due latte, per favore. So, how's tricks?"

"Fine," I said. "And you?"

Always lead the conversation back to Adrian, that's my motto. That way, he never gets bored.

"Working in television this week," he said. "Outside my usual orbit, but I'm doing a favour for a friend who needs some PR doing for a new programme he and the BBC have cooked up together. He has a small freelance TV company that has persuaded the BBC to let them make a trend-setting, mould-breaking series for them, on the grounds that they have come up with an idea that nobody has ever thought of."

"Impossible," I said. "All ideas have been done before."

"That is true," said Adrian, "but sometimes people come up with a combination of two ideas that has never been tried before. My friend has come up with just such a combination: sex and animals."

"On the contrary," I said. "David Attenborough's already done all that. He has been through the mating patterns of every possible living species."

"Not sex and nature," said Adrian. "I'm talking about sex and animals. That's different. You know that animal programmes are very popular on TV at the moment? Animal Hospital etc? All those poor ailing pets who get well on the spot for fear of being touched by Rolf Harris's rough Australian hands? And you know that homosexual programmes and characters are also very big right now? Queer as Folk, for one. And what about that bloke from Gimme, Gimme, Gimme?"

"Yes, yes, yes..."

"My mate is combining the two ideas in a new programme about homosexual dogs. Bound to be a mass sensation."

"They'll never let him do it."

"They've already commissioned him. Series of six half-hours. New programme called Gay Dogs and Englishmen."

"Shouldn't that strictly be Mad Dogs and Englishmen?"

"Yeah, but that title's already taken - they're using it for another programme about the British and rabies."

I thought about it a moment.

"You're not seriously trying to tell me that the BBC hopes to boost its audience figures by attracting homosexual dogs?"

"Of course not. You don't really think it's sick parrots that watch Rolf Harris, do you?"

I paused again.

"Do you think that there really are such things as homosexual dogs, Adrian?"

"Of course there are. Why else do you think people would talk about `gay dogs'?"

"I don't think homosexuality is found much in nature."

"Dogs don't operate in nature, son. They operate in man's environment and they pick up all man's strange little ways. Ever seen two male dogs mounting each other? Course you have. Why do you think they do it? Because they like it, of course ! As a matter of fact, there are plenty of dogs pretending to be happily married with puppies, who are actually raving gays on the quiet."

"Dogs in the closet?"

"That's the subject of programme 4," said Adrian happily. "When Dogs Come Out..."

"Sounds like a load of tosh to me," I said.

"Of course it's a load of tosh," he said, "but it's what the BBC wants. You ask Alan Yentob next time you see him. It's cross-genre programmes they're after. Cross-genre is the new buzz word."

"What does cross-genre mean?"

"Oh, it means doing one programme in the style of another. It's what the BBC does when it doesn't know what the hell it wants. It means doing cookery as a quiz show... or a really serious documentary on something quite trivial, like the history of the drawing pin... Or doing apparently quite serious programmes about homosexuality in dogs.

"Only thing is, we're not sure if the public is quite ready for it, and we'll have to start spreading the word, so if you could mention it in your column somewhere, old boy, just start preparing the ground...?"

"Consider it done, Adrian, chum," I said.