Thursday, June 02, 2005

Booze Monster

There's nothing I like more than a cheap reality show which classes itself as a 'social experiment'. It's like advertising a culinary masterclass, then presenting us with 'Ready, Steady, Cook'. So I particularly enjoyed the start of ITV1's 'Ladette to Lady' tonight, which began by describing itself as "The most ambitious social experiment since 'My Fair Lady'".

Er... has anyone told them that's a work of fiction? Mind you, most reality TV is pretty fictional at the best of times, so maybe it doesn't matter. The social experimenters behind this particular masterpiece, however, went even further, defining the current culture of 'ladettes', before announcing that "we've come up with a radical solution to this new phenomenon".

Ah yes, there's nothing like a low budget reality show to single-handedly cure all of society's ills. And just how does this programme plan to do it? By sending ten girls to a mock finishing school. Yup, that should change the face of Britain.

ITV1 have reopened Eggleston Hall in Teesdale for five weeks, during which time they'll teach flower-arranging to the ten volunteers and turn them into ladies. The girls themselves include such little women as Claire, a hairdresser whose mother describes her as "a booze monster", while her more open-minded father says "I think she's a drunken bum". Not that either of them are accepting any responsibility for the state of their daughter, obviously.

Then there's Hayley, who on hearing the word 'deportment', thought it meant she'd be shipped abroad, and Jessica who declared "I don't always want to come across as a little f*cker". Her and me both.

They were pitted against a triumvirate of ladylike poshness, in the form of headmistress Jean, cookery teacher Rosemary (who doesn't have much thyme), and the formidable Mrs English who called one girl "blobby", and told another "you haven't got the boobs for it".

But after a few days of intensive training, and one burping contest, the girls were off to a cocktail party choc-full of eligible bachelors, where they blended in seamlessly. As a public school educated young gentleman smiled and complimented Jessica on her accessories, saying "the gold sets off your hair", the young debutante giggled coyly, before replying with "I think it makes my tits look good".

I think there may be some way to go there.

But the bachelors were generous with their appraisal, describing the girls as "absolutely lovely", "charming" and "very sweet", whilst in the other camp the evening was summed up with the words "I'm pissed as a flaming fart". Two different sides of the same coin there.

The week over, each ladette was given a grilling, before two were chosen to be expelled. The effect on the girls was profound. Gas fitter Michelle stated "I need a shit", while Geordie Sarah-Jane told us "I really could've spewed".

Give her another drink and she probably will.