New TV show follows recruits as they train to become RSPCA inspectors

Being an RSPCA officer on the frontline is a tough, heart-breaking and emotional role – a unique job that only 400 people truly understand.

But a new TV series launching on Channel 4 aims to give the public an insight into what it’s really like working for one of the oldest and largest animal welfare organisations in the world, and how individuals prepare to fight animal cruelty in England and Wales.

The new six-part series Animal Rescue School – narrated by RSPCA friend and movie legend Sir Patrick Stewart – goes behind the scenes of the RSPCA’s unique inspector training school for the first time, revealing the tough course the new recruits must complete in order to graduate as fully-fledged RSPCA inspectors.

In the series – which starts today (Saturday 21 March) at 3.55pm – we meet the class of 2018/2019 as they learn the ropes; from legal training to swimming tests, how to handle a snake to how to catch a swan.

The series follows 25 recruits as they trained at the charity’s national headquarters in Horsham, West Sussex, as well as at a number of centres and bases across the country.

RSPCA Chief Inspectorate Officer Dermot Murphy said: “These amazing recruits were selected from more than 4,000 applicants to fill just 25 positions. And with places on our course more in-demand than Oxbridge, it’s a huge achievement just to make it this far.

“But once they’ve made it in, then the real work begins, and they have to prove they can pass through one of the most challenging courses that exists. Being animal crazy isn’t enough to see them through and our trainees must show that they’ve got the compassion, composure and determination to make it out in the field as an RSPCA inspector.”

The show follows recruits such as Becky Goulding, who quit her successful career as an archaeologist to fulfil her dream of working with animals and former estate agent Nat Kitchin, who has to learn to overcome her fear of horses as part of the course.

David Sumnall, from Middlechild – the production company behind Animal Rescue School said: “Only the very best students will make it through one of the toughest, most challenging and demanding ‘job interviews’ there is.

“They must survive a series of make-or-break physical tests, a wave of gruelling exams covering every aspect of animal welfare law, and impress their tutors as they work real-life cases, rushing to rescue animals in trouble and helping to stamp out cruelty and neglect. Who will realise their dreams of becoming an RSPCA inspector?”

Narrator Sir Patrick says: “Can these ordinary people survive an extraordinary year of training?” Tune in this Saturday to find out.

Rebecca Goulding