Thursday, September 15, 2005

Angela's Hashes

Very occasionally a show will go completely under my radar, and despite scouring the pages of TV Choice on a daily basis, I'll somehow fail to spot a complete gem of a programme. So it is with 'A Week of Dressing Dangerously', which apparently has been running on BBC2 on Wednesday evenings for the past four weeks without once catching my eye. I finally caught up with it last night however, and may I say I was not disappointed. Although if Chris Morris isn't behind this one, I'll eat my hat. Which, on this programme, would be a gay stetson.

The show features fashion journalist Angela Buttolph (a made-up name if ever I heard one), who believes that "by changing the way you dress, people will see you differently". Which is true. Unfortunately Angela seems to want people to see you as gay, which I'm not sure is the difference most of us would aspire to. Angela's victim on last night's show was Jason Staines (another comedy name), a software administrator from Surrey who is apparently introverted and lacking in self-confidence. So much so, that he applied to go on a national TV show.

Every day for five days, Jason has to agree to wear an outfit chosen by Angela. He has to wear it all day, and continue to go about his daily life. Which sounds fair enough. Unfortunately Angela Buttolph is no Trinny & Susannah. Having measured up the unsuspecting Jason, she hit the shops with the words "I'm off to find a week's worth of clothes that will really push Jason's personality in totally new directions". Or if not his personality, his sexuality. Suffice it to say, she's not shopping in any store I've ever been in.

Day One's outfit was the fetching little number on the right. Lilac checked jacket, matching plus fours, and a purple satin shirt. Jason had to attend his I.T. company's office looking, as one friend pointed out, like "a camp golfer". I'm sure it did him the power of good. A female colleague commented that "the outfit definitely suits him", which seemed about as big an insult as you can get, but hey that was only day one - things would get a lot worse than that.

Day Two was what Angela called "Rudolph Valentino, exotic, mysterious and romantic", and featured a cape, an Arabian headdress and an open shirt. As Angela said, "Who would know that you were from Surrey, and not some distant exotic land?". Well, anyone who saw the false moustache really. But despite an encouraging comment from best friend Stuart - "You don't normally wear that much make-up" - Jason set off on a blind date with a girl called Rachel, who hadn't been told of his week of dressing dangerously, and frankly did well not to bolt at the first sign of his knee-high boots.

But it was quite a romantic moment nonetheless. Jason's first words: "I've been in this all day". Rachel's response: "How embarrassing". The conclusion: "I think it's developed my ability to approach people". Yes, but it hasn't stopped them running away.

Onto Day Three, and the cowboy outfit. In Angela's words, "How macho is that?". Answer: not very. Especially the way Jason minced down the road with his thumbs in his belt loops. By now he'd clearly been brainwashed however, and despite looking like a reject from a Village People tribute act, he declared "I think it's quite a masculine outfit". A view shared by most of the gay community, I'm sure.

The week hit an all-time high on Day Four, when Angela dressed Jason as a 'player', complete with cane, full-length white fur coat and accompanying bling. He looked like a cross between Gary Numan and a polar bear. Having test driven a car, and walked through town looking like a gay pimp, he phoned Rachel (you could hear the panic in her voice when he told her who it was) and verbally bludgeoned the girl until she agreed to meet him again. To be honest I was surprised he was still interested in women. The man could not have been more camp.

Well not until Day Five anyway. The week reached its climax with the Marc Bolan look (which is an insult to Marc Bolan). Angela dressed Jason in platform shoes, blonde wig and a white catsuit, adding "You've got to have balls to wear this". And we could certainly see them as he strode towards the camera. But he strutted through Surrey like a drag queen, only more effeminate, before seranading Rachel from the top of a bridge, and talking about how nice his bum looks. He then stroked his wig and announced that "this week we have explored parts of me that don't often get to see the light of day", before using words like "liberating", "sensual" and "dominant".

Something tells me Jason's clothes weren't the only thing to have come out of the closet this week.