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Training Dogs The Woodhouse Way (BBC2) starred eccentric, bossy senior citizen Barbara Woodhouse, replete in woolly tartan kilt and sensible shoes.
70-year-old Barbara, a doctor’s wife, was a former horse trainer who had developed her own forceful techniques for teaching dogs obedience.
She went to agricultural college and wrote seventeen books, and made a comfortable living from her star Great Danes Juno and Junia, who had worked with David Niven, Clark Gable, Douglas Fairbanks Jnr and Roger Moore, among many.
Her 1980s dog, Junior, could open windows, ring the gong, vacuum the carpet, strip the beds of dirty linen and put it in a basket, water the garden with a hosepipe and answer the phone by taking it off the receiver and fetching its mistress.
Her dog obedience training methods were criticised at the time – and since – but she received 300 fan letters a day and believed that even dogs watched her shows, drawn to the screen by telepathy and the stern tone of her voice – which was Joyce Grenfell crossed with Lady Bracknell.
She claimed she could train a dog in six minutes – and few cared to argue, having seen how she treated dog owners she considered stupid.
To prove it she gave commands over a radio link to Melbourne in Australia, and apparently, on the other side of the planet, they obeyed her instructions to “Sit!” and “Wait!”. Her BBC LP sold in thousands.
The BBC2 series became so popular that it was repeated on BBC1 less than four weeks after the end of the run.
The Woodhouse World of Animals (1980) followed on BBC1 before she switched channels for a Yorkshire Television programme entitled Barbara Woodhouse Goes to Beverly Hills (1981), where she proceeded to bemuse stars such as Zsa Zsa Gabor and David Soul with her somewhat hectoring expertise.
She then returned to the BBC for Barbara’s World of Horses and Ponies (1981) – which was attacked by the British Horse Society – and Barbara Woodhouse’s Roadshow (1982).
Woodhouse died of a stroke in 1988. She was 78.