Catwalk Dogs

Catwalk Dogs
Sunday 21 October 2007 9:00pm – 10:30pm on ITV1.

Kris Marshall (Sold, Love Actually, My Family), Georgia MacKenzie (Honest, Condemned, Murphy’s Law) and Diana Quick (Midsomer Murders, Poirot, Revengers Tragedy) star along side canine principals Archie the Fox Terrier and Klaus the Rottweiler in this feature length romcom which shows the lengths to which dog lovers, and lovers, will go.

Catwalk Dogs is the story of Sally (Georgia MacKenzie) and Michael (Kris Marshall) a couple who are ‘coping’ with the trauma of miscarriage. The day Michael brings home pedigree puppy Archie it changes their lives forever.

When Georgia Mackenzie realised she would have to work closely with a Rottweiler she had visions of a slobbering, growling beast. She was sorely mistaken.

“I didn’t realise how docile they could be. Klaus was like a teddy bear. He was one of those dogs who leans on you – he’d fall over if I walked away.”

Georgia laughs as she recalls: “No one actually asked me if I liked dogs when they offered me the role. The dog trainer told me she had once worked on a film about a little girl and her dog but she was allergic to dogs and no one had checked.

“Luckily I love dogs or it would have been a nightmare. Especially the times I had to smear cream cheese on my face so Archie would lick me. It was gross but if it meant we got the shot I was happy. We got most things down with the aid of sausages – the trainer Gill would be standing behind me with a piece of sausage and that was the only way Archie could gaze at me lovingly.”

“I’ve never actually owned a pet in my life – apart from a goldfish I got from a fair. I’ve never experienced an animal in the home but I did enjoy coming to work and hanging out with all these different breeds.

“I can’t say it made me want to start dog showing though. I watched a DVD of Crufts and it was quite scary. All the trimming, clipping and hair drying that goes on. These people are utterly focused.”

Sally’s biological clock is ticking as she approaches her thirties. She is devastated when she suffers her second miscarriage and this places further strains on her relationship with workaholic barrister, Michael. In an attempt to cheer her up Michael buys her a puppy, a very cute Fox Terrier. Enter into their life a bundle of fluff called Archie.

The new arrival cannot paint over the cracks in the relationship and in fact widens them when Sally enters him in a local dog show. Archie wins. Michael scoffs. Sally leaves him. But she has nowhere to go until dog breeder, Guy, offers to let her stay at a cottage on his farm.

The triangle is established as Guy and Sally become romantically linked despite his monster of a mother, Rottweiler breeder Mrs Jessop. Newly unemployed and drinking too much, a jealous Michael tries to win back Sally’s affection by taking a hitherto non apparent interest in Archie. He decides to show the dog himself with the help of dog walker Gill and a band of supporters from the local dog club.

Guy presents Sally with a well bred Rottweiler called Klaus and the rivalry is set as Sally and Michael go head to head with their dogs, right the way through to the Best in Show at the National Dog Championships.

Mrs Jessop will go to any lengths to achieve her dream of winning the championship but will Michael and Sally let the competition ruin their chances of happiness?

Writer Simon Nye (Beast, Open Wide, Tunnel of Love, Men behaving Badly) says: “I knew very little about dog shows so I went to Crufts and was blown away by the madness of it all. Breeds I’d never heard of, bizarre accessories and the sheer number of competitors. To be honest I still struggle to know why the judges pick one dog over another.”

No stranger to working with animals Simon penned the sitcom Beast set in a vet’s surgery.

“The first thing you realise as a writer working on a show like this is that it takes a minute to write a line of action for a dog, then several days for the trainer to provide the dog with the training to shoot that scene. But this film is really about people anyway – why we love dogs, what we get form them and are we completely bonkers to get so excited about grooming them to within an inch of their lives in order to win a rosette?

“It helps that dogs are inherently funny, whereas cats, for example aren’t. You’ll notice also that there are no children whatsoever in the film. You can overdo the challenges…”

Explaining the mix of humour and poignancy in Catwalk Dogs, Simon adds: “One of the best rules of comedy is pick a terribly sad subject and some desperate characters then the jokes will take care of themselves.”

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