Friday, 20 June 2014

Whatever happened to the PG Tips chimps?

Do you remember the PG Tips chimps? Their adverts, including the famous one about two removals men (well, monkeys) trying to get a piano up a flight of steps were funnier than most of the actual programmes. But did the chimps enjoy themselves as much as the viewers?

Apparently yes, they really enjoyed dressing up, but it's said they found retirement from the spotlight hard to cope with. Transferred to Twycross Zoo in Leicester, they missed interacting with humans and found it difficult to integrate with other apes.

42-year-old Choppers, below, is the only one left now after her lifelong friend Louis (who played Mr Shifter in the removals ad) died last year. Does she look so sad because she's remembering the days when she was a star (That's her, above, as Ada the tea lady)? Or is she just gasping for a cup of tea?

The rights and wrongs of animals in entertainment has been a thorny issue for more than a century. Did you know the first calls to ban them were made exactly 100 years ago when the Performing Animals Defence League was formed in 1914? Click here to read the 100-year history of attempts to ban animals in entertainment.


  1. I know that using animals in entertainment scenarios is frowned upon but I loved the PG Tips Chimps! I'm sure some of our favourite TV icons (of the fur and feather variety) were looked after better than the human actors! Black Beauty was another favourite of mine.

    1. Those chimps were the funniest things on TV when I was growing up - apart from the Smash potatoes aliens! I spoke to one of the ladies who looked after the PG Tips chimps and heard some great behind-the-scenes tales of four-legged screen stars. On the film Gorillas in the Mist she trained chimps blacked up to look like gorillas!

    2. Now that's an article that needs writing! How lovely to find out how well the animals were looked after when there is so much negativity around - refreshing change. Oh and I LOVED the smash aliens haha, thanks for the trip down memory lane :-)

    3. That article will be in The Stage very soon! Actually, although I was brought up to believe training animals was cruel, all the trainers I've met have been completely devoted to their animals and the animals I've seen have all be in tip top condition. Take a look at my recent piece on Thomas Chipperfield in the Telegraph:

    4. Thanks for the link, will take a look.