Doggy Styling, Channel 4 - TV review


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The Independent Culture

We got an introduction to the competitive world of extreme creative dog grooming in the documentary Doggy Styling on Channel 4 last night.

It was the underdog (sorry) tale of Sue Eld-Weaver from Northamptonshire, a mum of 14 – poodles, that is. She also had four human sons who dreamed of winning the world championships held every year in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately for Sue, the field was dominated by Americans, who, thanks to their more advanced reality TV culture, spoke in fully formed quotable soundbites. There was Kevin, the only male competitor, who wanted us to appreciated his creativity: "I'm not afraid to step out of a box. If you put me in a box and tell me not to step out of it, I will step out of it."

Then there was Adrienne Pope from Conway, South Carolina, who said things like, "Picasso used a white sheet of blank paper. I use a white dog and this is my canvas." As part of her Disney-themed masterpiece, Adrienne forced her husband, a middle-aged man called Darryl, to wear a Mickey Mouse suit and twerk like Miley Cyrus.

Most of the humiliation was reserved for the poodles who, to their credit, managed to maintain an air of placid dignity while their eyebrows were dyed purple and their toenails were painted with glitter. There were poodles who looked like lions, poodles who looked like pandas and one poodle who looked like Yoda from Star Wars.

If these whimsical get-ups and Simon Callow's derisive voiceover gave the impression this was all a bit of fun, there were also regular reminders to the contrary. You can't know the true meaning of competitive spirit, until you've seen a woman apply lipstick to a dog's arse. On second thoughts, maybe dog grooming isn't such a wholesome hobby, after all.