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The best TV dogs, including After Life’s Brandy

The best TV dogs, including After Life’s Brandy

Someone call the paw-parazzi! We love the characters in Ricky Gervais’ After Life, but it’s his furry friend who steals the show, as they often do in telly…

By Laura Rutkowski, Senior Staff Writer

Although Gervais tends to leave us wanting more with his short and sweet format of two series and a special, he caved to writing After Life series 3 due to audience demand. The show is the most watched British comedy of the decade, with a worldwide viewership of nearly 100 million.


As series 3 comes to Netflix on Friday 14 January, make the most of it, because Gervais said, “I’ve already made my mind up there won’t be a four.” After Life has been praised for its realistic depiction of grief, with Gervais playing newspaper journalist Tony, who lost his wife Lisa (Kerry Godliman) to breast cancer.

Although we only meet Lisa in home movies filmed by Tony and clips she’s recorded for him in hospital, her loss is felt deeply. Her death is already enough to contend with, which is why questions of whether their gorgeous German Shepherd will die has been a worry since series 2. Viewers have grown particularly attached to the dog, who keeps Tony company and is a large reason why he gets up in the morning – and why he decides not to take his own life.

Gervais has assured fans that “the dog does not die” in series 3. Thank goodness for that. There’s a reason why the website Does The Dog Die? exists…

As After Life returns, the relationship between Tony and Emma (Ashley Jensen, Catastrophe), the nurse who’d been looking after Tony’s late dad Ray (David Bradley, the Harry Potter series), is still up in the air. As he navigates their will-they-won’t-they scenario, Tony continues to mourn for Lisa, as well as his dad.


Meanwhile, we hope to gain some closure on the rest of the series’ characters: Lenny (Tony Way), Kath (Diane Morgan), Postman Pat (Joe Wilkinson), Roxy (Roisin Conaty), Anne (Penelope Wilton) and Brian (David Earl). 


On Twitter, Gervais has teased a large role for Brandy this series. He wrote, “One of the main themes of After Life is that a dog can save your life. This is ramped up in season 3 & she becomes as important as any other character.”

Before we watch Brandy being a total star once again, check out our list of the best dogs in television and where you can catch them in action. True to the WeRateDogs Twitter account, which rates every dog higher than a 10/10, we have ranked all of these dogs 5/5, or above. After all, there is no such thing as bad dogs, only good dogs and great dogs.

The best TV dogs to watch right now

Tony brought Brandy home when she was just a puppy to surprise Lisa and appears in many of the home videos. Now, Tony and Brandy visit Lisa’s grave together. Brandy, who is played by Anti, made her debut in 2018’s Oscar’s Bell and also appeared in In Fabric. After Life was her television debut and she’s been barking sense into Gervais’ Tony ever since, including to convince him not to take his own life (whether it’s at the beach or in the bathtub).


At a press event we attended last year for series 2 of All Creatures Great And Small, Mrs Pumphrey’s dog Tricki Woo (played by Derek) was in attendance! The cast all had nothing but praise for him. Samuel West said, “[He] is one of the most gifted animals I’ve ever worked with. He definitely reads the scripts – and that’s not meant to be funny.” Not to mention, he looks fabulous.


#Eccles trended last year when, at the height of lockdown, Coronation Street decided to kill off the beloved dog, leaving fans distraught. The two dogs that play Eccles, formerly know as Lady Freckles, are alive and well, but it was an emotional exit for the Border Terrier, who spent 14 years on the soap. She survived a near-drowning, being hit by a car, a poisoned sausage and multiple owners.


Roger the lurcher, played by a female called Mossup, answers to both names on the show as she’s such a regular on The Durrells. She’s best pals with Gerry (Milo Parker) and is one heck of an actor! When she is accidentally shot in the leg by Gerry’s brother Leslie, she convincingly jumps into the air as if she’s been hit and she was trained to walk on her front paws with her back legs on a wooden trolley. She’s also appeared on Casualty, The Crown and toured with the Royal Shakespeare Company.


Cinnamon is one pampered pooch and is spoiled rotten by her owner Raj (Kunal Nayyar). Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) gift the Yorkshire Terrier to Raj so he won’t be lonely without a girlfriend. When he does get a girlfriend, Howard thinks of a game called “Emily or Cinnamon”, where the friends have to guess whether something Raj said was either about his girlfriend or his dog. It was usually a sweet comment about Cinnamon…


The lovable Jack Russell Terrier owned by Martin Crane (John Mahoney) was played by the dog Moose for the first seven series, and by his son Enzo for the remaining four! Moose nabbed the role after six months of training and he even starred on several magazine covers, has an official calendar and an “autiobiography,” My Life As A Dog, which was written by Brian Hargrove, the husband of David Hyde Pierce, who plays Niles Crane in Frasier.


Barley, the dog who plays Demelza’s dog Garrick, became so in demand that filming on Poldark had to be scheduled around him! The lurcher cross was rescued from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and his skills include barking on cue and walking on his hind legs. He’s starred in Asda and Sainbury’s ads, as well as appeared in Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them.


“Forget man’s best friend. She is the audience’s best friend”, The Guardian wrote about loyal lab Isis, named after the Egyptian goddess. Then, star Hugh Bonneville, who plays Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, had to suggest killing her off. “Someone had done some nerdy chart working out how old all the characters would be if we started in 1912. They’d worked out by the time we got to series 6 the dog should be dead. So I said, “Wouldn’t it be fun to kill the dog?”” Uh… no! Needless to say, that was one tearful episode.


It was Patrick Stewart’s idea for his character Jean-Luc Picard to have a dog as he lives out his days on a vineyard, and that it should be a pit bull. “I am obsessed with pit bulls,” he said. “What a dog, and how ill-used they have been… They are the most sensitive, the most loving, the most giving, the most affectionate creatures that you could ever possibly hope to meet”. The dog’s name comes from the Enterprise’s First Officer William Riker, who Picard used to call Number One.


Bouton (meaning button), played by adorable rescue dog Scamp, is a Very Good Boy as he roams around L’Hôpital des Anges sniffing out or sensing diseases and infections that don’t have any physical symptoms. He assists Mother Hildegarde de Gascogne (Frances de la Tour, the Harry Potter series), who runs the hospital. Watch Scamp’s impressive audition here.

Take our quiz: Which TV/film dog is your ultimate canine companion?

When is After Life on Netflix?

After Life series 3 is available in Apps & Games > Netflix from Friday 14 January. Series 1 & 2 available now.

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