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Ciara O'Connor: 'The woke brigade aren't coming after Laura Whitmore for her carbon footprint - they just don't like her'

Ciara O'Connor


 

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Laura Whitmore is hosting Love Island's winter edition. Picture: Instagram

Laura Whitmore is hosting Love Island's winter edition. Picture: Instagram

Laura Whitmore is hosting Love Island's winter edition. Picture: Instagram

Laura Whitmore is hosting Love Island's winter edition. Picture: Instagram

Style: Laura Whitmore wore the suit from Irish designer Joanne Hynes on ‘Love Island: Aftersun’

Style: Laura Whitmore wore the suit from Irish designer Joanne Hynes on ‘Love Island: Aftersun’

Laura Whitmore

Laura Whitmore

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Laura Whitmore is hosting Love Island's winter edition. Picture: Instagram

Last week the sipper of TV's sexiest poisoned chalice - Laura Whitmore - got the sharp end of the woke public's outrage about her carbon footprint.

She tweeted a photo of herself landing in the UK at 5am ahead of her BBC Radio 5 Live show, writing "Morning London! Just landed and back on air @bbc5live at 10am."

This was the moment when everyone realised that Love Island is actually being filmed in South Africa this year - and that South Africa is in Africa, far away. And that in order for Laura Whitmore to sashay into the Love Island villa every so often to make the contestants wet their pants in fear, she has to go to South Africa.

"Laura Whitmore should be sacked," one Twitter user wrote. "Who thinks it's okay to fly that much? What a complete disregard for the state of the planet!"

Another said: "I'm sorry but you could easily do your radio live in South Africa and easily present Love Island Aftersun (I'm sure ITV2 could pay for guests to fly out)! I think it's ridiculous that you're travelling back and forth! You need to think more of the climate!"

The logical inconsistency of flying several people over and back a week, just so Laura Whitmore doesn't have to move, didn't bother anyone. That's understandable, because the angry villagers with pitchforks are not coming for Whitmore because of her carbon footprint. The angry villagers just don't like Laura Whitmore.

Because we don't watch Love Island to see anything new; we watch Love Island for comfort - for more of the same, for absolute predictability. And the ditching of Caroline Flack, charisma black hole though she is, represented change.

Certain UK tabloids reported that ITV bosses were 'desperate' to get Flack back "as the show loses 800,000 viewers with Laura Whitmore hosting".

This is a bit of a leap - after all, we've seen her two or three times since the show started. The airtime would not be enough to tank the show - Love Island is doing that all on its own.

Whitmore responded to the calls for the resignation with a restrained, "I'm only in Cape Town for the finale, public voting etc. And I'm an advocate of offsetting carbon footprint you'll notice on my Twitter. Thanks x."

(Indeed, a few days before she had shared a certificate from a project which helps individuals offset their flights. Whitmore had of course chosen forest plantations in Uruguay.)

But she's shiny, new and has none of the apparently relatable chaotic energy of Caroline Flack. And, yes, it's a little bit funny seeing her do the Flack megabitch strut-walk, and occasionally wrangled into the awful Flack-style outfits. Flack is already being rehabilitated (we're told she's going to gym every day - a very 2020 signifier of moral value) and may well be back to captain the sinking ship in summer. If viewing figures are anything to go by, that might be just as well for Laura Whitmore.

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Indeed, David Walliams, that most boo-able of men, was consummately booed at the UK's National Television Awards last week for having a dig at Caroline Flack. After Joel Dommett and The Masked Singer's Hedgehog presented an award, Walliams said: "Thank you, Joel, and so nice to see Caroline Flack back on TV as well."

It seems that the boos were not because it was a poorly crafted joke, but because Caroline wasn't there to defend herself and suddenly she didn't deserve it.

But this is what I love about the NTAs, the most underrated awards show of the season: it is as close a reflection of the cultural landscape as Penney's sleepwear department. The NTAs is all of us.

Cast your mind back to last year's awards: Love Island winners Jack Fincham and Dani Dyer were on backstage duties. Dermot O'Leary hosted for the last time; the ginger lad from Strictly was still pretending that it was absolutely fine that his wife snogged that grim comedian; Caroline Flack was in attendance. But perhaps most jarringly of all, Maura Higgins was still an obscure Longford ring-girl, yet to viscerally enrage and then melt the cold hearts of millions.

This year, Maura and Love Island beau Curtis were hosting the red carpet, and if reports are to be believed, she ended the night in tears after a row with Curtis in which he apparently took credit for her career, forgetting that she is the only reason his disconcerting smile is tolerated anywhere.

Elsewhere at the Grammys, Billie Eilish and Lizzo melted hearts by insisting they didn't deserve their gongs, and crossing their fingers for Ariana Grande and Beyonce instead.

But that's not what we want from the NTAs. We want the Loose Women in red - like the world's most frightening bridal party, palpably livid about losing. We want the absurd world in which Mrs Brown's Boys is better than Fleabag. We want conspiracy theories about 'frostiness' and 'grabbing' between morning TV presenters. We want Holly Willoughby living her best life in her sweetly rubbish pastel princess dresses.

*******

Taylor Swift, all baby pink, ponytails and dungarees, sits in a panelled room at a shiny mahogany piano: an iPhone is propped in front of her; a fluffy white kitten pads across the keys. This is Miss Americana, the Netflix documentary that earned the opening night spot at Sundance, that immediately trended worldwide upon its release, that might just be Swift's finest bit of storytelling yet.

The documentary feels like a semicolon between the last 10 years and the next: a summing up, a confirmation of the narrative. Because if there's one thing that Swift values above all else, it's controlling the narrative.

The film might offer an explanation. Fundamentally, it's an attempt to make the public to feel warm about the pop princess with the unfortunately habit of really irritating people.

It covers a lot of ground. She reads from childhood diaries; discloses an eating disorder; undergoes a political awakening which culminates in a girl-power argument with two old white men on her management team. She talks about loneliness and an obsession to be seen as 'good'. That Kanye moment at the VMAs when she was just 19, with the benefit of 10 years, is obviously a formative trauma.

But Miss Americana wasn't the only reason Swift was in the headlines. It was reported she skipped the Grammys because they couldn't guarantee she'd win.

It's true: Taylor Swift can't win.

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