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Boycott, here. The Under-Secretary? Yes, of course I'll speak to him. Good afternoon, sir. It has been inconvenient, I've taken steps to ensure it doesn't happen again. Suspend work completely, sir? Couldn't we... no of course not. I understand completely.
~ Dr. Boycott forced to quit his job.

Dr. Robert Boycott is the main antagonist of the 1977 Richard Adams book The Plague Dogs, and its 1982 animated film adaptation of the same name. He is a callous and unsympathetic scientist who runs the A.R.S.E. (Animal Research: Scientific and Experimental) and tortures animals for experiments, particularly Rowf and Snitter.

He was voiced by the late Nigel Hawthorne, who also voiced Captain Campion in the 1978 film Watership Down.

Biography

He is a senior researcher at A.R.S.E. in charge of the experimental programme which involved Rowf. He is callous and arrogant, with no remorse for either the animals in his experiments or his subordinate, Stephen Powell. His inept handling of the situation arising from the dogs' escape serves both to antagonize the local farmers, who are losing sheep to the dogs, and to provide grist to Digby Driver's mill despite his efforts to do the opposite.

History

During Snitter's life with his owner, Alan Wood, Snitter is being chased by an approaching truck. His owner pushes him out of the way and is hit by the truck. His sister, Anne Moss argues that Snitter killed him and sells him to the A.R.S.E., leaving Snitter to believe that he killed his master.

Dr. Boycott and his right-hand man, Stephen Powell, have done numerous experiments on Snitter with vivisection, while they repeatedly drowned Rowf to test his endurance. One evening, Snitter squeezes into Rowf's cage and discover that his door was unlatched. They explore the facility in order to escape while discovering other animals who were having horrible experiments done on them until they sneak into an incinerator. When Dr. Goodner prepares to start up the incinerator, the two dogs realize that they're inside the incinerator and narrowly escape from the lab, allowing them to roam the countryside.

Later, after the dogs meet up with the Tod, Dr. Boycott receives a call from one of the local farmers, learning that the dogs have been hunting down sheep. He is afraid to tell them and hires a bounty hunter to take down the dogs.

The next morning, after Snitter accidentally kills a farmer by stepping onto his shotgun, the police are hired to take them down. The hunter eventually finds the dogs above a cliff, but only succeeds in shooting off Rowf's collar as he is jumped by the Tod and falls to his death before his corpse is scavenged by the dogs.

The next morning, the army was involved. The dogs learn that the scientists are patrolling the area in an RAF Sea King helicopter, but the Tod comes up with a plan to distract the hunters and have the dogs escape on a train to the sea. However, he eventually ends up being cornered and killed by the hunters. The train arrives at the coastal village of Ravenglass where the two dogs try to find some food at a cafe, but they are spotted by the helicopter and are pursued by it until they reach the shoreline and can run no further. As the army approach and prepare to shoot the dogs, Snitter looks out over the water and claims to see an island. He jumps into the sea and begins to swim to it. Rowf is hesitant to follow due to his hydrophobia, but his greater fear of the gunmen drives him to jump in as well and catch up with Snitter. The soldiers begin to shoot at the dogs, but seemingly miss. A mist begins to form as the gunmen and helicopter disappear. Boycott then receives a call from the Under-Secretary and overhears that he is forced to suspend his job.

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Trivia

  • The A.R.S.E. (short for Animal Research: Scientific and Experimental) is a British slang for buttocks.
  • His voice actor, the late Nigel Hawthorne also voiced Captain Campion from the 1978 film Watership Down, which is another movie directed by Martin Rosen and based on a book by Richard Adams.
  • The scene in which Rowf and Snitter sneak out of the lab to escape shows them walking past the other animals who were having horrible experiments done on them, the most disturbing one being the monkeys. The fact that the monkeys have electrodes planted into their heads makes it unlikely they are being used for breeding, but equally horrific invasive brain research.
  • In the film, Boycott hires a bounty hunter named Ackland to hunt down the dogs until he eventually falls to his death and is svaneged by the dogs. However, in the book, the hunter is Geoffrey Wescott, who wasn't hired by Boycott and only wanted to hunt them down for raiding his groceries.
  • In the extended version of the film, Dr. Boycott is at his lab and overhears that he's forced to quit his job before the two dogs try to escape the army.
  • His experiments on cats by making them wear hoods isn't shown in the film. The purpose of the experiment was to find out what happens to cats who are forced to wear hoods that constantly cover their eyes and ears.