Magazine article The Spectator

Television: How'd You Get So Rich?; Britain in Focus; Catastrophe

Magazine article The Spectator

Television: How'd You Get So Rich?; Britain in Focus; Catastrophe

Article excerpt

Fans of tough investigative journalism should probably avoid Channel 4's How'd You Get So Rich? Presenter Katherine Ryan's main tactic is to ask wealthy people how much they paid for something and, when they tell her, to repeat their answer in a tone of wondering admiration. Yet, despite her best efforts to keep it shallow, the programme does end up shedding some light on our peculiar attitudes to the very rich -- and in particular our capacity to feel superior and inferior to them at the same time.

Ryan, a Canadian comedian who'll be familiar to anybody who's watched virtually any panel show, began Monday's opening episode at the Shropshire pile owned by Steve Smith, the founder of Poundland. At first, the gratifying vulgarity of the décor seemed to offer us the promising chance for a good sneer. Sadly, though, Steve and his wife Tracey proved so unselfconsciously chuffed about how their lives had panned out that it was impossible not to warm to them. They also appeared to have changed little since the young Steve worked on his dad's market stall. Having cheerfully declared that he painted all the grapes on the ballroom ceiling himself, he and Tracey then packed for a forthcoming trip to Majorca, making sure not to forget the teabags. After that, they flew by helicopter for a date night in a curry house.

Not so appealing, mind you, was Ryan's next magnate, Danny Lambo, a former pop star -- of the big-in-Japan kind -- who now owns a London hotel. 'I'm actually known as Britain's flashiest playboy,' Danny explained matter-of-factly (and, just as annoyingly, a quick Google of the tabloids confirmed that he actually is). What this means in practice is that he drives around the streets of Chelsea in a Lamborghini, and when he spots an attractive woman, waves signs at her reading either, 'You're cute' or less romantically, 'Nice arse.' Even so, he confessed in a voice of puzzled disappointment, most of his girlfriends turn out to be 'gold-digger types'.

But to be properly rich, it seems, you need to spend your life -- as Ryan put it with a welcome touch of asperity -- breaking models' noses. By far her wealthiest interviewee was Dr Raj Kanodia, an LA plastic surgeon, who, among other things, carries out 250 nose jobs a year at $20,000 a pop. The programme filmed him reassuring an anxious young knockout that he could indeed fix the unsightly, if almost imperceptible, bump on her nose. Ryan then observed, without apparent irony (or evidence), that he's motivated not by money but by 'a passion for beauty'. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.