Friday, 23 October 2009

She's got the look

It's customary for rich woman of a certain age to find charitable works to fill the days of their retirement, and Joan Collins is no exception. But it seems that Alzheimer's, sick children and breast cancer aren't enough for St Joanie - she's decided that there are whole swathes of the British populace requiring her benevolent attentions. In new ITV show Joan Does Glamour, the Jurassic Jezebel offers to help sweatpant-clad no-hopers get in touch with their inner glamourpuss.

With barely concealed malevolence, the 76-year old actress counsels all manner of poorly dressed schlubs by sneering at their tattoos, poking their muffin-tops and asking of their belly-button rings, "What does it do?" Given that entire species have evolved since she last set foot inside a supermarket, the sight of Joan Collins navigating the aisles of a supermarket is a little like watching Anneka Rice attempting to find Shakespeare's birthplace with only Kenneth Kendall's cryptic clues to guide her.

At one point, she spies a shelf of Andrex toilet tissue and assumes that it's for toilet training puppies, since the packs have labradors on them. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Joan is unfamiliar with the concept of toilet paper, since she may well have been strapping herself into a pair of Depends for the last decade.

In a show with so many unexpected delights, it's hard to pick a favourite moment. There's the scene where Joan gives one woman style advice whilst dressed in a sailor's cap, striped sweater and deathly-white make-up, suggesting that Marcel Marceau is her style icon, as well as the inspiration for her naturalistic acting technique.

Or how about the moment when, reflecting on the advice of legendary make-up artist Allan 'Whitey' Snider, who told Joan it's all about "skills not surgery, base not Botox"? In amongst her nostalgic reflection, she neglects to mention the importance of smearing the camera lens with enough Vaseline to lubricate a bull elephant orgy.

What the show really illustrates, other than the fact that people are happy to be insulted just as long as their attacker is famous, is just how disconnected one can become after half a century of celebrity. For instance, Joan sneerily derides one frumpy housefrau for wearing something "I would dust my silver with" as if she's often to be found up to her elbows in Brasso. Likewise, it's a little rich critiquing people for their lack of style, when perched on a barstool with belly-rolls threatening to burst free from an animal-print lamé top, or wearing shoulder-pads you could land an Apache on.

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