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SuBo story strikes a sour note

Inspired by Osca Humphreys' fly-on-the-wall, celebsploitation documentary Susan Boyle: An Unlikely Superstar, I've decided to make a documentary called Osca Humphreys: An Unlikely Documentarian.

A cautionary rags-to-riches story it will feature footage of Osca Humphreys (also the director of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding) sitting alone in a dimly lit dressing room, shedding occasional tears on the shoulder of his manager and generally being patronised as I repeatedly ask leading questions about his loneliness. Sad music will play in the background. There will also be value-laden assertions about the happiness of this "most unlikely" documentary maker. And there'll be lots of cod-psychology. "I sense that [Osca's] reluctance to enjoying the trappings of his success is connected to the fear of someday losing it," I will say with a faux-concerned voice.

My documentary will also feature Simon Cowell, a bequiffed slab of gorgonzola in a loose-necked, chest-revealing T-shirt, who will ponder aloud about whether it was morally right to give Osca a career in the first place (he will ignore the more pressing issue of whether a grown man should be wearing a loose-necked, chest-revealing T-shirt).

It will include footage of Osca in his home town where the "boys who threw stones" at him are now fans. "How ironic," my camera will seem to say as I document Osca's socially awkward engagement with the townsfolk. I will try not to punch the air and shout "television gold!" as Osca makes socially awkward and culturally insensitive jokes while visiting China to sing on their version of The X Factor.

I will, in short, make an utterly patronising and redundant cash-in film modelled on Osca Humphreys' Susan Boyle: An Unlikely Superstar.

I hate the Susan Boyle phenomenon. Susan Boyle herself is a nice lady with talent. But the tale of the "hairy angel" mocked by the mob until she was found to have a lovely voice was insulting to everybody. It was Britain's Got Talent's way of saying to their audience: "We hate you. We think you're a bunch of judgmental pigs."

The "Susan Boyle story" first asserted, not that it was wrong to make negative judgments about people based on their appearance, but that it was wrong to make negative judgments about people based on their appearance if they can sing and then become famous. Then it turned into a tawdry lie about the redemptive powers of fame.

Later, when Susan didn't appear to be enjoying her fame that much, the narrative shifted to "Susan Boyle, lonely flake", and this is the version of the story that Humphreys hammers home.

For most of his documentary he makes no real efforts to subvert this simplistic view or to find new angles, and then at the end he wraps it all up by hastily reverting to the original story. Could SuBo be, after all, happy with her loving fan-base, successful career and squillions of quid? "I finally began to realise what success has brought her," says Humphreys (money, fans, nosy documentarians), doing his best to sound all wise, but clearly in a hurry to go film more gypsies.

Over on Sky Living, Drop Dead Diva is the tale of another diva out of her comfort zone -- a skinny, blonde model, who finds her soul trapped in the body of an overweight brunette lawyer. Yes, as in life, on television there are two kinds of ladies -- skinny blondes and fat brunettes -- exact opposites meriting the body-swap treatment.

Okay, it's a flimsy idea. Luckily, individual episodes often ignore this premise and simply tell stories about a quirky lawyer learning quirky life lessons from the quirky cases she ends up quirking on ... sorry, I mean "working" on. So it's basically a more likeable version of Ally McBeal without the body-dysmorphia and misogyny and with a supernatural element and cult US comedian Margaret Cho.

Susan Boyle: An Unlikely Superstar HIIII

Drop Dead Diva HIIII


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