Olive and Mabel commentator feared career would be over after dogs went viral

The sports commentator who became an overnight Twitter celebrity for humorous videos of his two dogs during lockdown feared he would be viewed as a “joke commentator” that could cost him his career.

Andrew Cotter, 47, went viral after chronicling the mundane lives of his two Labradors, Olive and Mabel.

When Britain went into lockdown in March, Cotter’s work as a television sports commentator ground to a halt and to pass the time he put his observation skills into practice.

Six months later his videos of Olive and Mabel have been seen by millions of people around the globe and Cotter is a published author.

The book, Olive, Mabel And Me: Life And Adventures With My Canine Companions, is published later this month.

Scottish-born Cotter said the inspiration for the videos was taken from the 1990s sketch show Big Train in which renowned sports commentator Barry Davies earnestly described the World Stare-Out Championship.

“I had no idea that it was going to go into like that. I was going to commentate on various mundane things of a sports broadcaster commentating on everyday life because I’ve got nothing else to commentate on,” he said.

“I eventually decided to commentate on the dogs. I was fortunate that it was the dogs because then that took off with a lot of people and it resonated with them as dog owners.”

Cotter, who prior to the lockdown was better known for his television coverage of golf, rugby, tennis and athletics, said he was concerned that now he may be seen as a joke commentator, so switched from providing humorous voiceovers on the dogs to putting them in human situations.

“I was concerned after the second one, Game of Bones, because it was even bigger and you don’t want to be the joke commentator because you do have to go back to work,” he said.

“This year was supposed to be the summer of Wimbledon, the Open, the Olympics.

“If you’re commentating on the Olympic opening ceremony and all people are thinking is, ‘that’s the guy that does the dogs’ then you’ve lost a bit of credibility.

“You do think you don’t want to be the joke commentator and that’s kind of why I wanted to move on to do little sketches and put them into human situations rather than just do commentary on them.”

Cotter said after the success of the videos he was approached by a Hollwood “bigwig” who he would not name who was interested in “taking this forward”.

“He’s a big dog lover and he said he’d love to do a series. I’m not sure that will happen, I think we’ve passed that moment now,” Cotter said.

“I will continue making, if I can think of the ideas, films. If they (the dogs) continue to live the bizarre lives they do, I will continue to film. They make me laugh as much as anything else.

“Everything is so serious, so grim and so down at the moment and if you have 90 seconds of laughing with dogs, that the most important thing.”

Cotter, who was speaking at an event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, said that after being a commentator for 20 years he had enjoyed doing something different this summer and was considering continuing with his writing career.

“I am looking forward to sport coming back but only once it comes back properly, I think really,” he said.

“It is great that it is happening in some way at all but it’s not really sport as we know it, its sport without the colour and the passion.

“I’m genuinely looking forward to do more little videos with Olive and Mabel. I like trying to come up with ideas.

“I’m looking forward to seeing if people don’t put this book down in disgust after three pages, I’m looking forward to maybe writing some more, probably dog-related, possibly not, I don’t know, but I will see how we go.”