Being a grown up is a pain the whoopsie; as we stare down the cold hard barrel of reality we have to accept life’s facts; not only is it unlikely that you’ll ever be fostered by Pippa from Home and Away but your teen idols dearest ambitions may remain unfulfilled too. I felt that dull thump of mortality watching Martine McCutcheon, the nineties Cheryl Cole, Eastenders great white hope, pop back on our screen advertising yoghurt. Oh Martine, Britain’s self styled answer to J-Lo, where did it all go wrong?
It’s easy to forget just how popular Martine was. She broke our hearts playing Tiffany in Eastenders, bringing doe eyed Hollywood glamour to the grubby streets of Walford. When Tiff met her inevitable tragic end, watched by over twenty million quietly sniffling fans, she seemed certain to conquer Hollywood for all the other raggedy East end street children. Her autobiography, the first of that much maligned genre, revealed a deprived and abusive childhood, her talent and tenacity a lifeboat from a world of drudgery.
When her first single went straight to number one ,showcasing an angelic voice, it seemed a fitting end to a modern fairy story, this cockney Cinderella was finally going to go to the ball. Her stage debut in “My Fair Lady” was a perfect casting; she was going to show those snobby West End wendies that a working class girl from a soap could cut it in the elitist world of musical theatre. Move your arse Tiffany, we cheered, you can do it! But then suddenly everything began to go wrong.
She missed more than half of the performances due to sickness and instead of sympathy, there were rumours of malingering and complaints of unprofessionalism from more experienced members of the cast. She still, however, had her big film debut in “Love Actually” in a part written specifically for her. The film’s London premiere gloomily foreshadowed Martine’s misbegotten movie career. Despite an expensive dress and extravagant hair do , the photographers seemed more interest in another lesser known actress also appearing in the film , a posh wan girl in a demure outfit; Keira Knightly. Now Keira’s confused pout earns her millions and Martine is advertising dairy produce.
She now faces her greatest indignity yet; the former Mrs. Mitchell is reduced to writing novels, the poor man’s DVDs. As she tries to convince us how excited she is about her “The Mistress”, I want to get the entire British public to politely turn away and wrap a blanket around her. I know Martine, it’s not fair, we hate Keira Knightly too.
Should she wish to, she doesn’t even have the option of Celebrity Big Brother to kick start her flagging career, as the grand old lady of televised desperation faces her final curtain this month. In its original muggle format it turned everyday “normal” people, in the most inverted of commas, into celebs. Its glamorous sister has the opposite effect; famous faces that may have inspired some curiosity reduced to puffy faced zombies, shuffling around the Big Brother house in dressing gowns like sick teenagers home sick from school.
While the normal version of the show featured hopeful youngsters giddy with the promise of fame, a great big throbbing hole of need where other people store their personalities, the celeb version was an elephant’s grave yard of jaded, pragmatic soul selling. Over the years we’ve had Michael Barrymore, Ulrika Johnson and Jade Goody, shop worn stars, staring at the camera like puppies at an animal shelter begging desperately to be loved again. The spat out, chewed out, aftermath of fame without skill, or talent long exchanged for indulgence and gratification. This year’s is a raggy doll bunch of coulda, shoulda, woulda celebs, including Vinne Jones delicately balancing being a geezer hard man nut with performing tasks requiring jumpsuits and Alex Reid, Jordan’s new consort, a freakish toddler on steroids, making Peter Andre look like Peter Ustinov.
My favourite is Stephen Baldwin,or Alec Baldwin if you squint your eyes and imagine everything he’s saying is meant to be sarcastic. The Usual Suspects star has found God the way a teenager with ADHD discovers a band they really like or a fitness freak champions a new form of squatting. Take away the religion and he could be shrilly hectoring about anything, it just seems to be an excuse to be overbearing and self righteous. What fun it must be at the Baldwin house come Christmas with all the brother sat round the table trying to remember which one is which and who was married to Kim Basinger? You seen Martine, do you really want Hollywood fame if it involves a ministry that spreads the word of God through extreme sports like Stephens? Actually, please, please don’t answer that.