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Classic FM’s shows for pets over Bonfire Night weekend are back

By | Published on Wednesday 3 November 2021

Frightened Dog

We’re heading towards this year’s Bonfire Night and, with people allowed out again this year, it’s looking set to be a big one. That’s bad news for pets, who, as we all know, do not celebrate that time something wasn’t blown up by blowing a load of stuff up. In fact, they seem to be actively opposed to the whole blowing stuff up fad. That’s alright though, Classic FM is back with its pets only programming to distract them from all the noise going on outside.

For readers outside the UK unsure what I’m banging on about: Classic FM is a radio station that plays classical music. Every year – since 2018 – it has put on special programming over the Bonfire Night weekend to help calm pets scared of the fireworks exploding all around them.

Oh, what, it was Bonfire Night you weren’t sure about? Oh, well that’s simple. On 5 Nov 1605, a man called Guy Fawkes and a few of his friends decided to have a party. If you can call loading the basement of the Houses Of Parliament up with gunpowder in an effort to assassinate King James I a party.

The plot failed, with Fawkes caught, tortured and later executed. So pleased was King James not to have been blown to bits on 5 Nov that he encouraged Britons to light bonfires in celebration at his continued status of being in one piece. And we still do that today. Plus, we let off loads of fireworks, which is the big draw these days – King James’ celebrity status having waned somewhat.

This year Bonfire Night could be extra busy, of course. Last year, thanks to the pandemic, there were fewer celebrations. But now that the pandemic is officially over (according to current UK government policy), the country is primed to go big on fires and fireworks this year. Which is going to be a great look right while we’re also hosting an international conference on how to tackle climate change.

Aside from the environmental impact of setting up all those fires and setting off all those fireworks, there’s also the issue of the effect it has on the animals. Climate change is yet to make them all extinct, and while they’re here they seem really unwilling to get on board with this fireworks stuff. Indeed, as noted, they seem actively opposed to it. Hence the need for classical music.

Classical music can sooth and relax the anxious pets, see. And Classic FM will once again air two pet-centric shows on Friday and Saturday this weekend – the busiest two nights of the celebrations – running from 6pm to 10pm. The shows start an hour earlier this year, apparently due to listener demand. Well, demand from the listeners’ owners, I guess. Both shows will be presented by Charlotte Hawkins – who takes over from Bill Turnbull, who has hosted the music-for-pets-on-Bonfire-Night programmes since they were launched a few years back.

“It’s a huge privilege for me to host such a fabulous and much-loved programme on Classic FM for pets and their owners at this time”, says Hawkins. “The classical music that we’ve chosen is super-relaxing and soothing, so I look forward to welcoming everyone to what will be our radio sanctuary. It will be wonderful to introduce classical music to a whole new audience, especially the four-legged variety! I know there will be one very loyal listener tuning in – my rescue dog, Bailey, who will be seventeen years young on Bonfire Night!”

Now, if you are doubting the science here – ie does classical music really help? – well, Classic FM has found an expert to back up their annual classical-music-for-pets project, from the RSPCA, the animal welfare charity which partners on the show.

Dr Sam Gaines adds: “Fireworks night can be a scary time for animals. Many dogs and cats find it incredibly stressful – as do horses, farm animals and wildlife too. The noises and commotion can leave them feeling distressed and fearful”.

“Playing classical music is one thing that pet owners can do to help calm their animals while fireworks are being let off, and that is why we are so delighted to be involved with ‘Pet Classics’ again this year”, she adds. “We play the programme to some of the animals in our care across Bonfire Night to help them to relax and to help mask the sound of fireworks. We are proud to be supporting Classic FM and their focus on helping animals up and down the country”.

If you want to play some classical music to your pets outside the times that the special shows are on this weekend – or if you just can’t be bothered to remember when they’re airing – there’s also a Music For Pets playlist on Classic FM owner Global’s on-demand radio app.