Magazine article The Spectator

Poor David Yelland: Nothing to Offer but Bananas, Whipped Cream and a Male Stripper Called Dean

Magazine article The Spectator

Poor David Yelland: Nothing to Offer but Bananas, Whipped Cream and a Male Stripper Called Dean

Article excerpt

Did they or didn't they? Have they or haven't they? I hate, gentle reader, to draw you into a world of which you are probably barely aware. It started with Big Brother, the Channel 4 programme which put a number of young and generally tiresome people together in a house and invited us to listen to them maundering on about themselves. You've probably heard of it. You may even have seen it by accident. You may even know that Big Brother ended more than two weeks ago. What you may not realise is that the 'red top' tabloids have taken over where Channel 4 left off. Big Brother is bigger than ever.

Since Monday of last week the Sun has covered its front page every day with some aspect of Big Brother, or another equally brainless and voyeuristic programme, also ended, called Survivor. That is nine successive days. The Daily Star has missed only two days over the same period. The Mirror, having described itself as the Big Brother paper while the programme was showing, has oddly become rather superior, restricting itself to more ruminative inside pieces. The Sun's obsession centres, of course, on sex, and in particular the question of whether two Big Brother contestants, Helen, a 23-year-old Welsh hairdresser, and Paul, have been to bed together. Channel 4 producers had devoutly hoped they would, but Paul proved surprisingly reluctant on camera, and at the crucial moment went off to make a cup of tea.

So the Sun has revived the question to which I referred at the beginning of this piece. Experts agree that Helen and Paul probably have been to bed together -indeed, the Sunday People, not to be outdone by the Sun, confidently declared on its front page that `Helen and Paul do stuff. (The News of the World, on the other hand, suggested on its front page that all was not well in the relationship.) But, to be fair to the Sun, it is not only interested in Helen and Paul's love life. One of its front pages concerned Helen's new friendship with `Posh Spice'; another dealt with her career prospects. Yet another brought Helen together with `Charlotte the Harlot', the star of Survivor. On Tuesday the paper, momentarily exhausted with Helen, led with `Charlotte's three-in-bed stripper shocker'. `Sis begged for romp', we were informed. There were further details, which I won't tax you with, about bananas, whipped cream and a male stripper called Dean.

Now it may be, gentle, tolerant reader, that I am in danger of losing you. Why is he telling us all this? I can hear you asking. Why should the hallowed pages of The Spectator be sullied? My defence is that 10 million people read the Sun - let alone the readers of the other titles - which is almost one in four of the adult population of this country. In fact the paper's readership is considerably larger than was the audience for Big Brother. We cannot entirely ignore so many of our fellow countrymen. We must ask whether they enter this stupid and depraved world with a jaunty step and a happy heart, or whether some of them are also rather appalled and even a little bored by their paper's infatuation with characters who, after all, are neither glamorous nor as distinguished as the most obscure soap star.

Paul, Helen, Charlotte the Harlot and Dean are deeply ordinary. …

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