November 27, 2021

‘Sheridan Smith always excellent – but new dog grooming show is totally barking mad’ – Sara Wallis

I have a confession – I am not a dog person.

Please don’t hate me. And no, I’m not barking mad, just a very rare breed.

So when I heard the latest in reality TV concoctions was a dog grooming contest, well… I thought it was the worst doggone idea since the one with celebs on a farm.

Who wants to watch people panic over shihtzu top knots or wax lyrical about a bichon frise’s button nose? Probably quite a lot of you. Sigh.

We are a dog-obsessed nation and after lockdown saw a boom in furry pup buying (seven of my friends so far), BBC1’s Pooch Perfect is bow-wowing to demand.

Host Sheridan Smith, with her much-loved dog Stanley, is however brilliant

The only draw for me is Sheridan Smith, co-hosting with her dog Stanley, who is always excellent at everything.

She was having a ball, on hand for ­comedy skits and encouraging patting – and that was just for the humans.

In Thursday’s first heat, four professional groomers arrived in the Pooch Parlour, which has spa-like facilities for lucky mutts.

Sheridan Smith is pictured with the contestants of her new dog grooming show

“Anyone who doesn’t have a dog is weird,” declared Kara.

I don’t think we’d be friends.

Elsewhere, Abbie told us she grew up wanting to be a dalmatian.

Seriously. I mean, what are we supposed to do with that information?

Kara, Abbie, Thomas and Kelly were tasked with giving a shih tzu a haircut.

In strutted ‘clients’ Princess, Bourbon, Magic and Fizz and the oohing and aahing kicked off, with everyone suddenly regressing into baby talk.

As the washing and snipping began, we met the judges – master groomer Colin Taylor, obsessed with cuts like “well-fitting suits”, and poodle expert Verity Hardcastle, obsessed with seeing the dogs’ faces.

This is literally all they talked about. There were insights into the contestants and the breeds. How fast does a shihtzu’s hair grow again? Oh hang on, I don’t care.

Kara believes anyone who doesn’t have a dog is ‘weird’

Tension mounted over decisions ­between clippers or scissors, and whether the pooches would ever be able to see through their fringes.

I don’t see what the fuss is about – Claudia Winkleman seems to manage OK.

In a second task, they had to give curly-coated canines a teddy bear trim.

Cue discussions of fluffy faces, hidden paws and some revolting kissing of dogs throughout.

As the hounds were paraded on the Dogwalk, owners watched on like proud parents at their kids’ school play.

Ultimuttly (sorry), Kelly won Best In Show and Kara was the runner-up – so both are now in with a chance to win the Golden Stanley trophy.

No doubt millions will see this as mutt-see telly but for this sneezing TV critic, I’ll be busy washing my own hair.