Actor, singer and all-round TV personality, John Barrowman hosts Channel 4’s new daily entertainment show, Superstar Dogs. Here he reveals why us Brits are just potty about our pets!
As a dog lover, how pleased are you to be hosting Superstar Dogs?
“It’s great to be involved in a programme that encourages teamwork between dogs and their owners and shows them having lots of fun. I’ve been really impressed by what the dogs can do – if anything it’s the owners who make mistakes.”
Each episode sees dog owners guide their pet through a series of challenges, including fetching a toy from a swimming pool, then they must navigate a giant ‘Dogstacle’ course. How do you think your own dogs [John has a jack russell terrier named Captain Jack, after his character in the sci-fi series Torchwood, and Harris, a cocker spaniel] would fare in the challenges?
“Captain Jack knows how to dive underwater and swim down to retrieve a bone but I don’t think he’d be good a fetching any balls because he’d burst them. And I’d probably have to train him a bit for the Dogstacle course. Harris would refuse to do anything!”
We understand you have a search and rescue German Shepherd dog called Rex appearing on the show…
“Yes, there’s a search and rescue dog in one episode and we had a newfoundland in another episode who could actually pull a boat with six people in it. Some of these really are genuine superdogs already, they just haven’t won the title.”
Have there been any dogs you’ve wanted to take home?
“I’d be killed if I did that! There’s a couple that I really like but, no way, I can’t take them.”
With so many dogs around are there plenty of antics off-stage as well as on?
“We tend to not let the dogs hang out together or to watch what’s going on as other contestants are doing the challenges because we don’t want to give anybody an edge. But backstage it seems to be one, big happy family – in fact, I think we’ve mated a couple of the dogs, so now there are some puppies!”
After all the heats and semi-finals, the eventual winner will be crowned at Britain’s most prestigious dog event, Crufts. Why is this such an important prize?
“For any dog owner, having their dog appear at Crufts is the biggest accolade of all – and it’s important to remember that our Superstar Dogs are just everyday dogs, not showdogs. With such a major prize on offer, the owners on our show can be quite competitive.”
Competition aside, the theme at the heart of this show is the bond between a dog and its owner. Why do you think us Brits are such a nation of dog lovers?
“Dogs are loyal, they don’t judge and they love you unconditionally. I think humans could learn a lot from how most dogs behave – but I wouldn’t want to start sniffing everybody!”
Superstar Dogs begins on Monday February 17 at 5.30pm on Channel 4.