Hacker T. Dog is a CBBC star who has been on TV for 11 years. He lives in Wigan (he loves Wigan, perhaps as much as he loves Sue Barker) with two other dogs, Cosmo and Molly.
We caught up with the legendary Border Terrier to find out what life is like if you’re a dog who has interviewed Jim Carrey and why Jason Manford is one of his favourite people.
Hi Hacker, thanks for your time.
That’s alright, thanks for having me on your magazine.
How are you handling lockdown?
I like it, it’s great because I’m not a big fan of being less than two metres to people anyway so I’m loving it. I’m working from m’kennel, filming links on m’mobile and sending them in. In fact, I might see if they can keep it up when they let lockdown off.
You live with a couple of dogs, don’t you?
Yeah, I live with my little friends, Cosmo and Molly. One is a Chihuahua cross Yorkshire Terrier, a Chorkie, and the other is Jack Russell cross Shih Tzu, a Jackshih(t). Ha!
How are you enjoying spending more time with them, or in fact, how do you think they’re enjoying spending more time with you?
I’m enjoying spending more time with them, yeah, probably more than they’re enjoying spending it with me. Ha! Cos normally I’m being all showbiz, aren’t I, interviewing famous celebrities, but now I’m not doing that, cocker and I’m always at home so they’re not used to it really.
You’ve been on our screens for a little while now, haven’t you? How did you get spotted?
You won't believe this story. You will not believe what I'm going to tell you, but it’s true.
I used to be an entertainer doing the holiday camp circuit when I was little. I would work in Pontins and Butlins and all that, mainly doing my fantastic entertaining and top-notch jokes and that in the evening. So often I would be at home during the day resting.
One day I was at home in the kennel in bed, watching Colombo and eating a bowl of cold custard and guess who rang me up.
Edd the Duck.
Do you remember him?
He was on CBBC in the 90s. He rang me up and said “Hacker, do you want to be famous and be on the telly?” I said, “No.” “Well”, he said, “Well, don't be hasty. Come down to the TV centre in London.” So I said, “All right, then if it gets you off the phone, I'll go down.”
Edd the Duck / Photo Credit: BBC
So I went down to London with Edd the Duck, did a screen test and got the job on CBBC as the showbusiness top-notch dog that I am now and I've been there for 11 years, and that was only a four-month contract!
Good stuff. [Christopher, my dog, barks in the background]
Who’s that? I heard a dog then.
That’s Christopher. He’s got quite a bark on him, hasn’t he? God knows who he’s telling off. He’s downstairs now and I’ve got the door shut to stop him coming in like a whirlwind while I’m talking to you.
I’m pretty much like that, cocker. When I worked with Harry Hill (the comedian) after I’d finished my sketch with him he texted me later on saying “That was like watching a possession.” I like that.
That’s quite a compliment coming from him, isn’t it?
Yeah. I’m gonna put it on my passport.
What’s been your favourite assignment?
I’ve interviewed a lot of big stars. I’ve also interviewed a lot of local people and they’re all great in their own way. In fact, often the local ones I prefer because I'm quite local myself. I live in Wigan. I was born in Wigan, and this is where I shall end my days, cocker.
I did enjoy meeting Jim Carrey, who is a big Hollywood star.
I saw that interview. He asked for a sniff of your bum, didn’t he?
He did. After the cameras had stopped rolling I cannot begin to imagine what we’d have got up to.
Dogs have got some really cool jobs these days, don’t they?
Yeah, they’re doing well. They’re being worked like dogs.
What job do you think you would have been most suited to, had you not gone onto have a career in TV?
I think I’d have still been lumbering around the holiday camps doing m’low end entertainment for kids in the afternoons and early evenings, which I was happy with, cocker. I never aspired to be on telly. I was just headhunted by a mallard.
Who’ve been your comedy heroes over the years?
I like Sooty and Sweep, I’m big fans of them and I’m mates with them. I was a big fan of Harry Hill, of course, and Jim Carrey for that matter.
Sooty and Sweep
But I like the local comics. I was a fan of Frank Sidebottom, who I also became friends with. And John Shuttleworth. I love character comedians who do daft regional stuff.
I always say that these are probably questions you won’t have been asked before - and probably won’t be again...but hopefully you will find them fun to think about…
If you could swap places with another dog for a day, who would you swap with?
There are lots of famous dogs, aren’t there. I think I’d swap with Shep from ‘Blue Peter’ - as long as it wasn’t the day when he had to go up Nelson’s Column without a safety harness. I wouldn’t like that. I wouldn’t do it. I’m not a big fan of flying generally because I have to go in the overhead luggage.
They have assistance or therapy dogs that can go on flights with their owners now, you should look into becoming one of those.
Yeah, therapy dogs. I met a dog a couple of years ago called Mugly who won an award like the World's Ugliest Dog or something like that. He was great. He was a Chinese Crested Dog and I worked with him at a sci-fi convention called ‘Feel the Force Day’ in Peterborough. He was dead cute, his skin was so soft because he had no hair and he was dressed as Beetlejuice that day. I was in m’Hawaiian shirt obviously cos I’m dead showbiz like that.
We ask all of our celebrities this question, it’s all in the name of fun. Based on personalities alone, which breeds of dog come to mind when you think of these celebrities?
Sue Barker - I think she would be an energetic one like a Jack Russell because she’d be running about. She’s good at tennis, Sue, and little Jack Russells are always chasing tennis balls. And Sue does that, I mean not so much these days because she’s retired from playing. She’s got a great backhand, you know. She was a big star in 1973.
And she’s got that iconic hairdo, doesn’t she?
Yeah, which could be a little bit like an Afghan, actually.
Andy Murray - Andy Murray does have dogs actually, he has two Border Terriers, like me. I interviewed him at Wimbledon a few years ago - in fact, he asked to do a Hacker interview because he has Border Terriers and I’m a Border Terrier, so I’d say a Border Terrier. Or maybe a Scottie dog because he’s Scottish.
Karen Hauer - Oh, I know her. She’s a fan of my work. She came visiting me at Media City when I was working with her husband at the time, Kevin when he was a guest on the show.
She’s a big fan of dogs. She has three.
What does she have?
Three rescue cross-breeds, Betty, Marley and Phoebe, who is her newest dog. She has three legs. They’re lovely dogs.
Ah. Three legs? Front or back leg missing?
Ahh, I’d have called her Tripod.
I have a cat called Catface.
Cos she has the face of a cat?
I knew a bloke who had a cat called Catface too. Have a guess who. I’ve mentioned him already.
No. Frank Sidebottom.
She’s in good company then. I also look after a stray cat who lives in our garage called Gary.
Gary from the Garage?
Yeah. Sung to the tune of 'Jenny from the Block'.
Okay, based on her personality, what breed of dog does BBC weather presenter Carol Kirkwood remind you of?
She would be a lovely blonde Poodle with black and white stripy legs because when I worked with her once she put fake tan on her legs and it went wrong. Ha! She looked like a zebra. She’s good, Carol. Every time I worked with her she’d say “Oh no, this could be my last appearance on the telly.” I always like people being frightened that their career could be over by working with me.
And one last one, this person’s famous for his BBC shows. If Alan Partridge were a breed of dog, what do you think he’d be?
Alan! He’s a Norwich based local DJ. He’s up early, isn’t he? He probably works from about 4am for the graveyard shift on North Norfolk Digital, AHA!
So he’d be a dog that would sleep a lot, wouldn’t he? Probably a St Bernard.
And reversing the question, based on your personality, what celebrity (human) do you think you most resemble?
Well, I’m quite loud, aren’t I cocker. I’m quite abrasive and brash, but I’m dead talented as well. So I’d probably be Jason Manford.
He’s a top singer and so am I, and he’s handsome. And he dresses as a hedgehog, and I could probably dress as a hedgehog too.
I did his quiz on Youtube the other day. I filmed a sketch for it, he wrote it and I acted it out. It was good, I liked it. Keeping the morale up in these troubled times.
Tell us something about you that not many people know.
I started my career on the television in a TV show called ‘Scoop’ where I was a dog sidekick to a dog, Digby Digworth, played by Shaun Williamson - Barry from ‘Eastenders’. That was my very first TV show. I did three series of that on CBBC before I started doing my current job, which is hosting the CBBC channel and presenting the shows.
Where’s your favourite place in the world to be?
Do you know why?
Because all m’stuff’s here! It’s easier than leaving, cocker.
Are you a rugby fan or a football fan?
Neither. I don't like sport at all in any way, shape or form, which you might find hard to believe considering the number of sporting events I've worked at.
In fact, the sporting arena seems to be the most popular place that I get sent to for work. Maybe it's because I've got no interest in any of the sports.
I’ve got no interest in tennis but I’ve been to Wimbledon eleven times on the bounce.
And I did a red button commentary on the BBC for the World Cup a few years ago. I didn’t know what I was talking about. I was going “Oh look, that bloke’s just fallen over” and that. But my red button coverage got more listeners than Chris Moyles’ alternative red button commentary. He moaned about it at the time. (laughs)
What’s your favourite TV show?
My favourite show of all time is ‘Coronation Street’, the north, north-western based soap opera. I’ve been there a few times.
In fact, I was the first person to film on the current set at Media City before the cast moved over from Quay Street cos I filmed an internal film for CBBC and they were telling me that when they build the new set they put all the same dips in the cobbles in the street, so when it rains the puddles all settle in the same places that they did on Quay Street!
What’s your favourite song?
My favourite song of all time is ‘Cotton Eyed Joe’ by a Swedish electropop band called the Rednex. It’s a fantastic song from 1994. Have you heard of them?
I have. That song reminds me of school discos.
Fantastic. I’m friends with Dagger (Anders Sandberg) who does the male vocal parts. He rang me up once when I was live on telly. He surprised me, he didn’t tell me he was going to do that.
It was great. Perks of the job, cocker.
Is that your karaoke song?
Yes, it is. One of them anyway. I also sing ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ by the Arctic Monkeys and ‘Go West’ by the Pet Shop Boys who are m’other favourite band. When I was on ‘Celebrity Mastermind’ the Pet Shop Boys was my specialist subject.
How did you do?
It’s great, it’s on Youtube if you want to watch it. I came second, I lost by one point and the chef Paul Rankin who won got his final answer two seconds before the time ran out.
I’d have won it if it went to a tie break because I never passed. If you pass, your passes get deducted at a tiebreak situation.
At the end of it, I said to that bloke John Humphreys “Hold on a minute, you were reading his questions out faster than mine" and he said, “Oh you noticed, did you?”. So I think they read my questions out slower to eat up my time just to spite me.
I also went on ‘Celebrity Pointless’ and I came second on that as well.
What do you think is the most important life lesson we can learn from dogs?
To just enjoy yourself. Dogs are always happy to see you and they always think the door’s for them when it knocks. And it never is, cocker, apart from mine because I live here and this is my house!
And finally, let’s sum up what you know about dogs. Finish the following sentence, I think dogs are… great and cats are rubbish.
Generally, the rule of thumb is this: most dogs are great, a few are rubbish. Most cats are rubbish, a few are great.
Many thanks, Hacker!