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No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Sunday 16th January 2005

Good guys finish first, but losers end up richer

Forget about Posh and Becks. Don't even mention Jemima and Hugh. According to a brand new survey, Britain's most glamourous couple are Jordan and Peter Andre. That's right, 20,000 teenage girls have voted the spray-tanned tabloid space-fillers the UK's "best couple". Not even Jude Law and Sienna Miller could pip them to the post. In the same poll they came a distant third.

No doubt the chattering classes will see yet more evidence in this of the decline of Western civilisation. How can the public idolize a couple who's principal claim to fame is that their relationship began on I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here? Posh and Becks may be a far cry from Burton and Taylor, but at least they aren't totally bereft of talent. Jordan and Peter Andre have a grand total of eight assets between them: two silicone-enhanced breasts and a six-pack.

To my mind, however, there's another, more important lesson here. Namely, if you're a contestant on a reality show you're more likely to win in the long term if you don't come first. Think about it. In the first series of I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here, the real winner was Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, not Tony Blackburn, and in the most recent series, Paul Burrell came out on top, not Joe Pasquale. The squeaky-voiced comedian may have technically won, but the only gig he's landed so far is a part in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

The problem with reality shows is that, unlike in life, nice guys (and girls) finish first. The reason people like Brian Dowling win is because they're pleasant, well-adjusted and lovable; and that's also the reason they're never likely to amount to anything after the show in question comes off the air. People like Jade Goody, by contrast, will never win, but they'll always manage to parlay their exposure into fifteen minutes of fame nevertheless.

I have a sneaking suspicion that John McCririck, the racing tipster who has been infuriating his fellow housemates in Celebrity Big Brother, is aware of this. He may be an overweight, ex-public school boy with man breasts, but at least he stands out from the crowd. People will remember him long after Celebrity Big Brother 3 is a distant memory. Unlike all the other contestants, his career could get a real boost when he leaves the house.

From this point of view, McCririck's constant harping on his craving for Diet Coke is a stroke of genius. There's just a chance that the soft drinks company might take a punt on him and sign him up to make a few commercials, just as Tara Palmer-Tomkinson was recruited to advertise Walkers Crisps.

The secret of winning a reality show is to be nicer than everyone else; but the secret of converting your notoriety into shedloads of cash, as Jordan and Peter Andre have demonstrated, is to be more memorable.


Channel Five's forthcoming "exposé" of Richard Madely and Judy Finnigan--The Truth About Richard & Judy--is woefully poor, even by the standards of the Argos-like television channel. The programme opens with promises of all sorts of juicy revelations to come, only to wheel out a couple of moth-eaten stories we're all familiar with, such as the Crown Prosecution Service's misguided attempt to prosecute Richard for shoplifting, a crime of which he was completely innocent.

I'm biased, of course. I happened to appear on Richard & Judy last week and was bowled over by how well they treated their guests. Not only did everyone receive a complimentary bottle of champagne, but we were handed our fees in cash in plain brown envelopes at the end of the show. The fee even included an expenses component, though I hadn't actually incurred any expenses since they sent a Mercedes to pick me up and then arranged for another one to take me home.

More power to them, I say. Channel Five would be better off trying to come up with a show half as good as theirs instead of wasting their time trying to knock them off their pedestal.


The 2005 edition of Who's Who has just been published and, predictably enough, it's been accompanied by the usual clamour from those who've been left out about those who've been put in. This year's surprise entries include Nicole Kidman, Bryan Ferry, the poet Jon Hegley and the outré gay novelist Alan Hollinghurst.

The only time I've been up in arms about Who's Who's admissions policy was when I discovered that George Monbiot had been included last year. It wasn't just that he was a mere newspaper columnist that bothered me--after all, if you start including people of that ilk where will it all end?--so much as the fact that he was an exact contemporary of mine at Brasenose College, Oxford. You see, I was rather hoping that I'd be the first person in my year to appear in Who's Who. Ah well. I guess I'll actually have to go out and achieve something.


I was quite surprised to see that Zuma has been declared "Restaurant of the Year" by Tatler. Isn't a bit premature given that the year in question is less than three weeks old? Rather confusingly, a completely different bistro was named "Most Consistently Excellent Restaurant of the Year" while yet another was honoured for having the "Best Kitchen of the Year". The Tatler Restaurant Awards are a little like one of those politically correct sports days at an inner-London comprehensive in which all the contestants win prizes, including those that came last. As far as I'm concerned, the Best Restaurant of 2005 is the Rajput on the Goldhawk Road, although that may be because it's the only one I've been to so far. It's my local Indian.

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Twitter RT @QuilletteM: From the archives: Author @_HelenDale asks what would have happened if the industrial revolution happened in Rome? link  (2 hours ago)


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