Barbie: The Most Famous Doll In The World


For 58 years Barbie has been the queen of the doll world, but behind the plastic fantastic smile is a harsh truth: sales are down by 14% and they’ve been falling steadily for the last three years.

Is Barbie’s crown threatening to slip? Mary Portas (Mary Queen of Shops), the same age as Barbie herself, is venturing into the blonde bombshell’s world to find out whether Barbie’s days are numbered.

In Barbie: The Most Famous Doll In The World, retail and fashion guru Mary takes us on a journey during this pivotal period for Barbie. How does one of the world’s most iconic brands survive for over half a century in a world with such radically changing female role models? Can one of the world’s biggest brands move with the times and capture a whole new generation of fans?

As a retail, fashion and brand expert, Mary is fascinated to learn what this multi-million brand really means to children today, and what it means to their parents. Who is really behind those falling sales – who killed (or is killing) Barbie? Is it the parents, embracing feminist principles and worried about a global obsession with body image? Or does she just feel old-fashioned to an iPad-obsessed child? A series of psychological experiments help to test these key questions.

Regardless of changing attitudes however, Barbie still means a lot to many people. Mary throws herself deep into the wonderful world of the obsessives who have dedicated countless hours and stacks of money to their plastic idol. Mary is guest of honour at the official Barbie convention in Texas where thousands of collectors travel from all over the world to bid for mint condition Barbies and role-play with their Dream Houses. What drives a Barbie fan to spend $30,000 every month on updating his collection of over 3,000 Barbie and Ken dolls?

The fascinating story of Barbie can tell us an awful lot about the society we live in and how it has changed in recent years. What's more, with Mary’s disarming approach, we are taken much deeper than the corporate story of Barbie.

In a rapidly changing world, can Barbie ever keep up? And should she even try?



  • 1 x 60'


  • Documentary


  • Sundog Pictures

Commissioning Broadcaster

  • Channel 4

Year of production

  • 2017