Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Fat Chance of Success

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Fat Chance of Success

Article excerpt


THIS telly criticism lark has some strange sideeffects. In a bid to watch something decent, I've begun spending hours staring at the security televisions at my local supermarket checkouts, transfixed in reviewing mode as Sainsburyvision brings me human drama that's far more gripping than most broadcast programmes.

Over the past month alone, I've gasped as inattentive shoppers have failed to spot the two-for-one offer on Chocolate Hob-Nobs, thrilled to the delight of a lone nose-picker lingering by the Quorn, laughed at head-on collisions between delinquent trolleys, spied on furtive trysts between young lovers in the soft-fruit aisle and recoiled in horror at a closeup of a hideously fat and ugly man, only to realise that it was me, shot from a bizarre angle. And who can forget the night when security guards swooped down on a shoplifting pensioner, who'd been caught in the act of secreting a tube of Steradent and an iced bun in a place not recommended by the manufacturers?

For several decades, the eight participants on Celebrity Fit Club (ITV1) have been hiding their iced buns in the place recommended by the manufacturers, and their attempts to rid themselves of the resultant quantities of unattractive fat without resorting to auto-decapitation has made for viewing that's almost as enthralling as Tesco-rama. The show has attracted little tabloid interest and has therefore performed modestly in the ratings, but that's a pity, because it's an intelligent and well-constructed series that's far more relevant to viewers than most examples of the celebrity genre.

Speaking as the proud owner of a running machine (although the only exercise I've ever got from it was carrying it from the shop to the car and occasionally dusting it), there's nothing I enjoy more than watching other people trying to shift some breasts, especially if they're showbiz endomorphs like Jono Coleman, who was originally diagnosed as "morbidly obese".

Throughout the series, the relentless jollity he's exuded while attempting to become marginally less spherical has reminded me of those fat cackling girls you see in pubs (especially towards Christmas): life-and-soul-of-the-party types who laugh raucously all evening, then go home (alone), eat lard straight from the packet, then cry themselves to sleep.

Rather than watch the fat-headed nonentities in the Big Brother house on Friday evening, I caught up with the corpulent octet as they sweated their way through their August exercise session. Even without access to Smellyvision, their general appearance solved for me the riddle of "What do fat people do in the summer?"

(answer: they stink), but the scales revealed that most of them had lost several stones since they'd started in April, their combined lard presumably having been donated to Anne Diamond. …

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