Animal enthusiast Rolf Harris talks to TV Times magazine about his new series Rolf’s Animal Clinic (Channel 5, Tuesday)

Rolf’s Animal Clinic shows what goes on at The University of Liverpool’s Vet School – one of the world’s leading veterinary institutions. What are some of the more unusual things that go on there?
“They’ve got an obese animal clinic. As with humans, there’s an obesity epidemic amongst pets at the moment, and at this state of the art clinic, they have a body mass scanner that shows some animals have a BMI of 50 per cent of fat! The animals are put on special diets, weighed regularly and they even have slimmer of the month photos on the walls! It’s great.”

It’s great to see you back presenting an animal show on our screens. Animal Hospital was such a runaway hit in the 1990s…
“Animal Hospital was such an incredible landmark for me and for television. I did get very emotional, and I think that was probably one of the reasons the programme was so popular. People realised that you weren’t afraid to show your feelings, and I think that made a huge difference.”

You always appeared to at ease with the animals around you on the show…
“I always had puppies and kittens around from the time I was a tiny kid. So when Animal Hospital came along, I was very at ease with dogs and cats and seemed to be able to do a bit of sniffing and a bit of panting and a bit of animal sounds with them. I was just never fazed by it.”

Did you ever have run-ins with any angry animals?
“I was holding a cat, and it sunk its teeth straight into my hand. When I was a kid, I remember my dad saying, ‘If an animal bites you – just stay absolutely still. Even though it’s hurting like mad, stay still until they let go’. So I stayed still until it let go, which it did – but it bloody hurt! I had a tetanus injection and two courses of antibiotics. My hand was the size of a football!”

Did you have people coming up to you on the street asking for advice for their pets?
“People sort of assumed I was a vet! I had to say ‘Don’t ask me! I’m just a concerned onlooker!’”