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WHERE THE HEART IS

There was almost too much to enjoy - almost feverishly so - in Michelle and Andy's Big Day [ITV2]. The very fact that this is on ITV TWO is a clue to how low down the strata of "celebrity" we are here, and how desperate (and, at times, desperately sad) the actors look.

Michelle is out of Liberty X (who I've always kind of liked), whereas her husband to be, Andy Scott-Lee, is, uh, "famous" (cough cough) for being the um... (writer's head goes blank... Rumblefish type clouds go whizzing by; tumbleweed skip down the empty empty street)... brother of Lisa Scott-Lee... who is "famous" for her hilariously awful "reality" show Totally Scott Lee (before that - it is SUCH a long time ago, now - I think she was in Steps or something)... and Andy also... er... came 19th on a Pop Idol three years ago or something.

The 'hook' here is that they are planning their wedding.

I have to say, I have never seen two people who looked less made for marriage (altho I'm not sure that Michelle's uber Control Freak tendencies make any long lasting marriage that much of a safe bet) - but that's not the point here, as the Vicar soon realised, and was the only person un-sleb enough to articulate, in an Emperor's New Clothes type way. The 'point' is that strange new twilight world of private-life-as-career. The 'point' here was selling photo spreads to OK! magazine, and carving out a Jordan-&-Peter type niche for themselves.

Another reason that this isn't on the main ITV channel at peak viewing time may have something to do with Geordie Girl Michelle's unforgettable catch phrases - which divide pretty equally between "foook off!" and "foook off Andy!" Andy has the look of a young mastodon who has just been told about the coming Ice Age.

The whole thing was, as I say, thoroughly, disgustingly enjoyable (with lots of inadvertant fly-on-the-wall value, as to exactly how such 'careers' are staged and run these days, what sums of money are involved, where it comes from and where it goes to, and, in short, how a whole new industry has grown up around such plankton level celebs. This is the true meaning, for me, of the phrase 'New Labour': this is the proletariat now, this is what they do).

It was only spoiled, for me, by the one ostensibly 'real' moment: Michelle has already told us - apropos of nothing - that she has a "heart problem"*... and "mustn't drink". We then see her drinking for Newcastle on her hen night. We then hear she has had a "blackout" and must have tests: it is SERIOUS. There follows lots of time spent in hospitals, lots of crying and emoting, etc ... although Andy remains strangely waxy and distant and uninvolved, as if not knowing quite how to play his role. (Or, better say - he looked a bit MORE waxy and distant and uninvolved than in the rest of the programme. A cynic might have too quickly concluded Andy's eye here was on the main chance, rather than Michelle's heart ... but then the cynics didnt see how he, uh, well, seemed actually to slowly but definitely recoil from Michelle when she broke down in tears at the heart specialists. Heart warming - really.)

It wasn't til hours later that it struck me: I didnt actually believe a second of this section; there was something about it just a bit ... off. (I mean, I'm not actually saying that the producers, worried that Michelle was shaping up to be the least sympathetic woman ever to appear in a reality show, actually "staged" - or blew up, needlessly dramatised, subtly obfuscated the real nature of what was actually only a drunken fainting fit at most - but ... well, YOU MIGHT WELL BE LEAD TO THINK THAT.

(A recap:
1. Apropos of nothing, Michelle tells us she has a "heart problem" and has been told she shouldn't drink.
2. We see Michelle necking Flaming Zombies as if her contract depended on it.
3. Ridiculously overplayed section in which inconclusive tests lead all to contemplate the awfulness of Michelle having to go down the aisle with a newly installed pacemaker peeping out over her dress strap.
4. Oh - no! Nothing wrong! Just stress! No heart problems!
And thus we have a bit of weepy humanity, in the midst of a programme that otherwise captures Michelle as unrelentingly controlling, moody, shrewish, publicity obsessed, and whatever the absolute diametric opposite of "luvvy duvvy" is. I mean - I myself am one of the least tactile people in the world. And I thought Michelle had 'empathy' problems.)

My mind flashed back to the ur-template for all these shows, really: THE OSBOURNES. And how if you slowed down the credits to that show you would catch various credits for "Script supervisors" and "story arc ideas team" and such like ...

It's saying something when the only two people here who seemed to have their heads screwed on, and gave decent advice, and who recognisably belonged to the human race, were the female vicar, and the head guy from the G.A.Y. club-night.

When a female Church of England vicar, and a hedonistic gay guy have more in common than everyone else you have surrounded yourself with in the name of long term 'career advice' - well, as Michelle might put it, O - FOOK - NO.

______________
*{'Yes-' - most viewers were thinking - 'she hasn't GOT one ..'

posted by Ian 12/06/2006 02:48:00 PM

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