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Back to life is a better way than back to reality.

Byline: By Alison Carr

Celebrity is a fickle business. In the good old days a performer worked hard to perfect their craft ( if they were lucky they became the toast of the town, enjoying a long and distinguished career.

If they weren't, they ended up a washed-up has-been whose only hope was the odd cameo.

But those days are long gone. Now the showbiz world is clogged up with all sorts of B,C,D, E and F listers - here today, gone tomorrow, on the cover of Heat in the meantime no doubt.

The Death Of Celebrity (Channel 4) took issue with this recent phenomenon of `talent-free' celebs, asking shouldn't we be celebrating those with real talent instead of wasting our time with Reality TV wannabes or shameless opportunists who have been thrust into the public eye and now refuse to leave? Rebecca Loos and Abi Titmuss are prime examples of this and both featured in the programme. Nurse turned porn star via a sex scandal, Abi now regards herself as an author although I doubt her tome `Ten Fantasies' will be shortlisted for the Booker Prize anytime soon. But I have a theory - that even amongst this showbiz underclass there is a hierarchy. I don't mind Jade Goody because she is just as dumbfounded as the rest of us about why she is famous. Mind you, Jade is dumbfounded about most things so maybe she is not such a good example. She has no pretensions so I smile patronisingly when she pops up on my screen for the umpteenth time, although I quickly change channels before that annoying voice makes my ears bleed.

BB5's Saskia, on the other hand, needs to be taken outside and shot. OK so she appeared on the same programme as Jade and is famous simply for being famous (I don't think saying `End of' incessantly is a skill) but she has no idea of her place. Saskia took great offence when accused of having no talent, pointing out that she is a trained actress, a very good trained actress, in fact. Well, we'll just have to take your word for that, won't we love, cos it's not like we've, you know, ever seen you in anything, is it? And anyway, if she is such top thesp, wouldn't she have done a better job persuading the public to like her by at least acting like a nice person? I am sure Dame Judi could have done that.

Presenter Piers Morgan took great delight in stitching up and mocking these deluded fifteen-minute-wonders, particularly in the section where they were invited to prove they do have talent.

In a horrifying array of funny hats and short skirts, a selection of the most minor of minor celebrities tried desperately to prove their worth, usually by caterwauling their way through a chart topper of yesteryear.

Forgoing a Bon Jovi hit in favour of a Victoria Wood monologue, BB victor and Celebrity Wrestler, Kate Lawler, was voted the winner, although she didn't look too happy at being named the least talent free of the talent free.

THE world has hardly been crying out for a spin-off from Only Fools and Horses, but we got one anyway. The Green Green Grass (BBC1) pushes two supporting characters from the classic series into the fore.

Boycie and Marlene swap city living for country life and the jokes are as old as the hills which now surround them. Taking the dog for a walk, Boycie nips round the corner and gets into a taxi. Ho ho ho. While the teenage son making some pithy remark about a mobile phone shows writer John Sullivan is desperate to prove he is down with the kids. Oh stop, my sides are splitting. Laugh? I nearlya lapsed into a coma.

HOW do the execs at Channel 4 sleep at night? Pushing their Friday night line-up like it's something to be proud of? Two repeats, one new sitcom that has failed to set the schedules alight, and a comedy pranks show notable only for the fact it got Tom Cruise a bit damp a few months back. Hardly top-drawer, cutting-edge entertainment.

EASTENDERS has come under fire recently for one simple reason ( it's rubbish. So rubbish, in fact, I stopped watching the night Leslie Grantham clambered out of that canal, wrung out his leather jacket and growled "hello princess".

But with the news that Peggy has returned, I was persuaded to switch back on. After going psycho with a pick axe and digging up the body of Den, who wasn't so much `Dirty' anymore as `Decomposed', Sam is set to go down for murder. Cue mother Peggy.

The problem with Peggy is that she's not Peggy, she's Barbara Windsor. OK, so in the early days she went downmarket for the role, donning a shell suit and wearing a scrunchie in her hair. But Peggy doesn't wear scrunchies anymore.

It's Babs Windsor scuttling around the Square muttering about `fah-milllly', not Ma Mitchell. Perhaps things will improve when she has her boys around her again ( Ross 'what happened to my golden handcuffs deal, ITV?' Kemp and Steve `available for panto` McFadden due back soon.

As for the Kat, Alfie and Little Mo love triangle ( yawn. All the producers have done is break up the would-be pearly king and queen of Walford simply to get them back together. Again. Alfie pulls that puppy-dog expression, Kat slaps on another layer of orange foundation and Little Mo looks gormless in the Vic. It`s just the same old, same old. no one cares anymore. Do they? So come on writers, give Kasey Ainsworth more to do than stand behind the bar looking glum. She is an excellent actress and surely she deserves a juicy storyline to get her teeth into.

BBC3 continues to make its mark as a channel to be reckoned with when it comes to new comedy. The Smoking Room is a prime example. With nothing much happening, apart from a few disparate office workers sitting around smoking a few ciggies, the first series fell too much under the shadow of The Office, but this time around it's really finding its feet. This week, PA Janet celebrated her engagement. Describing her fiancA to the group she admitted "I might not have found a Heathcliff for my Cathy, but I've found a Ken Barlow for my Deirdre." It doesn't come with a Government health warning, but this underrated comedy is addictive stuff.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 17, 2005
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