TV blog: The Secret World of Posh Pets

Benjie Goodhart / 21 June 2017

This week’s TV highlights include a new series about ultra-devoted pet owners. Plus, Barbie doll lookalikes and the best of the rest of the week on TV.

The Secret World of Posh Pets 1/6, 8pm, ITV

This entertaining series looks at the most pampered pets in Britain. And their owners, who will do whatever it takes to ensure their pets want for nothing in life. Now ostensibly, that sounds fine. I’m a fan of animals – even the ones that we’re not supposed to eat. I’m not going to win Vegan of the Year anytime soon, but I’d catch a spider and put it outside rather than kill it, and I don’t go around putting cats into bins. But I am fairly confident in my assertion that pets are, well, pets. They. Are. Not. Human.

Debbie and Bob own 13 dogs. Each has its own toothbrush. Bob has to brush 13 sets of canine teeth every day, at Debbie’s behest. If that seems to you like Debbie is anthropomorphising her hounds a little too much, get this: Her favourite one, a Chihuahua (naturally) called Honey (naturally) is getting married to another of Debbie’s little yappy creatures. The budget for the occasion? Four grand.

She even has a wedding planner. So Debbie, and Honey, and a somewhat bemused wedding planner, go off to a wedding fair. It’s a wedding fair for humans, though, because pet weddings are not yet big business in the UK. Unlike in (do I even need to complete this sentence) the USA. “We need to define what we need to do,” says a panicking Debbie, “because we’ve only got four weeks.” I’ll tell you exactly what you need to do, Debbie. Absolutely nothing. Dogs don’t actually need to get married. It doesn’t carry canine tax benefits. Their offspring will not bear the stigma of illegitimacy. Particularly as both bride and groom have been ‘fixed’. Instead, why not just let them be dogs, in all their leg-cocking, non-teeth-brushing, extra-marital glory? 

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OMG: My Barbie Body, Sunday 25th June, 9pm, Channel 5

Hopefully you’re lucky enough to have mates who are really good fun. But every now and again, you look forward to seeing these really fun people, only to find them in profoundly miserable form. All of a sudden, what you anticipated was going to be a carefree evening of frothy foolishness ends up being filled with misery and gloom. Well, that’s how I felt watching this programme.

I was expecting something so much jauntier. It’s all about women who try to look like Barbie. It’s on Channel 5, who couldn’t do serious and sober if they were doing a series about the history of everything bad that’s ever happened. It’s even got the acronym OMG in the title. This, surely, screams trivial froth wrapped in pink ribbons, then wrapped in pink tissue paper, placed in a pink gift bag coated with pink glitter, and given to a girl dressed in pink.

Suffice to say, that’s not how this film turns out. Sure, there are quotes, at the beginning, that make you chuckle to yourself in a superior way. “I feel like Barbie. I look like Barbie. I am Barbie,” says 46-year-old Rachel. “I’m the only Barbie… there isn’t any other Barbie,” pronounces Kerry, 33, quite heroically, in a programme that’s about three Barbies. Then there’s 21-year-old Jade, who has had breast augmentation, and gone from an A to a double-G. She doesn’t look like the Barbie I remember my sisters playing with. I remember horse-riding Barbie, rollerskate Barbie, but not pneumatic webcam girl Barbie.

Yes, Jade is a webcam girl. It’s about here that the show stops being fun. It begins to emerge that Rachel, Kerry and Jade are all carrying far more than their share of sadness. These aren’t women playing at being Barbie, they’re determined to be Barbie because it means not being themselves. They’ve been bullied and judged all their lives, and suddenly, you, the viewer, aren’t just watching a fun bit of nonsense.

Of course, this makes it a far better documentary. Anyone can point a camera and giggle a bit at the woman spending over £100 grand to look like a child’s plaything. But once you start digging a little bit past the gossamer-thin veneer of happiness and fantasy, you discover a world that is much darker and more troubling.

The best… and the rest…

Saturday 24th June

Britain’s Great Gay Buildings, 8pm, Channel 4: Stephen Fry introduces seven famous gay faces, each one championing a different building that helped to define Britain’s gay history. 

Monday 26th June

Growing Up with Cancer, 7:30pm, BBC One: Documentary following three teenage cancer patients being treated at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children.

Tuesday 27th June

The Hotel Inspector, 9pm, Channel 5: Alex Polizzi is back with series 13 (!!!) of the show that seeks to help struggling hoteliers up their game. She’s like a hotel version of Gordon Ramsay, only less craggy, shouty and punchable.

Wednesday 28th June

The Week the Landlords Moved In, 9pm, BBC One: Some of Britain’s most successful landlords spend an eye-opening week living in their own properties.

Sudan: The Last of the Rhinos, 9pm, BBC Two: Sudan, a 43-year-old Northern White Rhino, is the last male of his kind. He lives, with the last two females, under 24-hour armed guard. This one-off film tells his story.

Thursday 29th June

Naked Attraction 1/5, 10pm, Channel 4: Singletons choose to go on a date with a partner based on nothing but their appearance in the absolute buff. The absolute buffoons. 

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