Mary Portas, the star of the show, was overhauling Selkie, a womenswear boutique in York. Nothing unusual there (and nothing unusual with the results unfortunately).
But the show took a turn for the worse when Portas called around 20 fashion students based in the North for a reality show-style grilling.
Portas wanted Selkie's owner to choose four of the students to provide a capsule range of garments for Selkie's new boutique room and the students were more than happy to oblige.
It's widely accepted that our fashion colleges and universities don't always train fashion graduates in the ways of the commercial world but to subject them to and then broadcast cutting remarks about their designs to an audience of several million was an unnecessary. These are young people, some as young as 18, at the start of a career in the business. To sit and laugh and point as Portas and her less than credible fellow panelist Hamish Morrow did, was highly inappropriate and in very bad taste. These are the future designers of the industry and while they may be a bit rough round the edges, they need encouragement and constructive criticism, rather than a self-serving Simon Cowell-style bashing.
Meanwhile, Portas managed to kill off all of Selkie's quirky personality and put it head to head customer-wise with one of the best independents in the country, Sarah Coggles, which is situated just a few streets away. Time will tell how wise this move was.
Mary Queen of Shops appears to have descended into dreary old reality TV - we've had fighting and tears, accusations of size-ism, unnecessary begging for labels. And while this is normally explained away as to boost TV ratings, Mary Queen of Shops has actually been losing viewers (according to the TV trade magazine Broadcast). Last night 1.9 million people tuned in compared with 2.8m for the first episode of series two.
Good luck to Selkie, and all the other stars of the series but what a shame Portas has taken the show down this route.
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