Contains: Forget Mr Clooney, ladies love Spock, Ed and Jezza, SamCam, we need to talk about Kevin, Donald Trump is the new black, SS-GB, de Niro’s vaccine fokkup, and exeunt, pursued by bear
A version of this appeared in the Scottish Daily Mail on February 21 2017
LISTENERS to Woman’s Hour were asked to name their biggest heartthrobs. The answer was, of course, George Clooney. Except it wasn’t.
Clooney has been a certain kind of romantic dream for yonks — good-looking, charming and slightly unattainable, what with being married and soon to be the father of twins.
Having met him, he’s also rather smug - and gets huffy if you fail to be impressed when he boasts of attending a G8 summit with Bono and Matt Damon, and instead wonder out loud what sort of expertise the Three Horsemen of Fashionable Entertainment Politics brought to that table.
Anyway, hurrah for Radio 4 listeners, who disdained convention and let their freak flags fly.
There were votes for Star Trek’s Mr Spock, Xena: Warrior Princess, Des Lynam and several Disney princes. Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits was named, as was Paul Nicholas from ancient sitcom Just Good Friends, with the defiant footnote ‘especially now he’s 72'.
What shifts the gears in the human heart? It doesn’t seem to be accomplishments and power any more because a lot of women cast votes for Ed Balls, following in the footsteps of Jeremy Vine on Strictly Come Dancing by winning hearts while waggling hips, even though dancing seems to come as naturally to them as bricklaying does to jellyfish.
Bad boys no longer have it their own way, either. Tom Hardy grunting through murder, psychosis and unbrotherly behaviour in Taboo has his admirers, but so does Little Jimmy Osmond’s Long Haired Lover From Liverpool — even though Jimmy did not have long hair, was from Utah and, given that he was a nine-year-old Mormon, was probably not much of a lover.
These are heartthrobs that will never be cool but are genuine, heartfelt loves that have not dared speak their name, until now.
A friend of mine calmly confessed to a grand passion for Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud. Another has always lusted after hoarse rocker Bryan Adams — the man responsible for the soundtrack to your drunk midweek minicab rides home — since hearing that ‘he bought the noisy pub next door to his house in order to close it down’.
A friend who worked on University Challenge said that when Jeremy Paxman developed a honking cold that went on for weeks, female researchers would fight over who could bring him hot ginger drinks.
The bad news for Benedict Cumberbatch is that, despite the reptilian eyes and worst hair in the world, he now seems a rather vanilla choice.
I laughed out loud when someone nominated Liberace as her secret crush, but it turns out his politesse, passion for mink coats and mastery of bejewelled boogiewoogie makes him ping on more than one female radar.
Mere death need not diminish appeal: Dudley Moore and Peter Cook are also on the ‘would’ list.
Perhaps the diversity sends up cheery smoke signals about female confidence. But sometimes gaining Sex Star ratings requires a very specific set of skills.
‘Steve Coogan,’ said a happily married mother of two. ‘But only if he’s dressed as the singer Tony Ferrino’.
THERE are so many problems with Samantha Cameron’s new fashion line that it is hard to pick a starting point.
Rather than set up in Britain, a Macedonian factory pays £1 an hour to workers churning out her high-priced togs. Also, she calls her range ‘Kevin’.
Officially, it’s Cefinn, a name made up from her children’s names — but the noise it makes is ‘Kevin’, and there’s more than a whiff of the Kevin about the drab, functional clothes.
Mrs Cameron, pictured left, isn’t the first recognisable name to try to spin polyester into gold.
Apparently being a celebrity, even when your fame rests on something as feeble as being married to a politician, means you have great skill as a fashion designer.
Having her ‘Kevin’ collection showcased in fashion bible Vogue this month must have been a lovely surprise for Mrs Cameron — and her sister Emily Sheffield, who is British Vogue’s deputy editor.
Coco Chanel started out making hats in a grim sweatshop. Tom Ford had to nag his boss for months to get a junior design job. Elie Saab started out making ‘dresses’ for his sisters by cutting up newspapers.
But Mrs Cameron has a fashion label after years of having her husband pay someone to style her, out of taxpayers’ money. In other words, no background in the business, no apprenticeship — just a few years of wearing designer clothes, an arduous duty that had her appointed an ambassador for British fashion.
If using something regularly is all it takes to get an honorarium, I am an ambassador for takeaway pizza. Very rich people don’t work harder, they just have a particular skillset for getting into useful places. Still, I can’t wait for Dave’s range of shirts, shorts, toodark navy polo tops and loafers without socks.
AT the weekend, we learnt from the new BBC drama SS-GB, and its husky star Sam Riley, that if the Nazis had successfully invaded Britain, the country would look like an Ultravox video and we’d immediately have run out of throat lozenges.
FOR the past six weeks my sister has thrown herself into a challenging gym regime of burpees, super-fast sprints and mountain climbs.
‘Do I look any different?’ she asked her husband, hopefully.
‘Absolutely,’ he reassured her, saying: ‘The gym shoes make you look shorter.’
AT his first solo press conference last week, Donald Trump asked a black reporter to set up a meeting with black lawmakers — implying that all black people know each other and control each other’s work diaries.
That’s as ridiculous as suggesting that all orange people know each other, although we should definitely test this out by asking the President of the United States to help next time you need to get in touch with Irn-Bru, pictured right, Willy Wonka’s Oompa Loompas, Tigger or Claudia Winkleman.
ROBERT De Niro and Robert F Kennedy Jnr are offering $100,000 for proof that vaccinations are safe. Once I’ve shown them my rubella, TB and polio scars, I’m using that reward to create a vaccine that stops Robert De Niro from making movies with ‘Fockers’ in the title.
EVEN those who have never seen The Winter’s Tale tend to know a couple of things about Shakespeare’s play.
The first is that it contains the magnificent stage direction, ‘Exit, pursued by a bear’, and the second is that it is tricky to stage because it blows hot and cold between tragedy and comedy.
By odd coincidence, we have Winter on both coasts at largely the same time, with Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre staging the play last month and Edinburgh’s Lyceum having performances until March 4. I wonder what triggered the thought that the time is ripe to revive a story about an impulsive leader who throws his country into chaos by refusing to heed counsellors, common sense and the laws of the land? If you get the chance, the play is worth seeing, especially since Lyceum artistic director David Greig’s production nails the politics, the comedy and the bear. But I’m not quite so sure about the sly nods towards the other country in The Winter’s Tale.
According to the Lyceum production, the sunny, far-flung state of Bohemia sounds and looks like Fife on a good day, complete with kilts, a foot-stomping Celtic band, wide boys selling dodgy fallen-aff-the-back-of-alorry goods and Shakespearean dialogue rendered into Scots. But I’m unconvinced that even a fictional Scotland would have only one night of rain.