Jasper Rees on Television
Saturday 19 October 1996
Millington stood 4' 11" in her birthday suit, the garment in which she mostly did business - although, according to context, she might be seen modelling shreds of bikini, or the latest gizmo from the flourishing sex-aid market. When Sullivan launched Whitehouse, a pink mag that charmingly borrowed the surname of his most public enemy, he slapped his slapper on the cover. He even made her editor, though in a purely figleaf capacity: she was appointed to prove that a woman's role in pornography was not solely to give guided tours of her fallopian tubes. She was "our little bit of Hollywood", mused someone from the Sunday Mirror. The 1970s must have been even worse than we thought they were.
A childlike, bottle-blonde, blow-waved attention-seeker, Millington promoted the idea of a spiritual sorority with Marilyn Monroe. But if she was anyone's little sister, it was Diana Dors's (with whom she slept on the quiet, and whose husband she bedded, less furtively, on screen). The Mary Millington Story (C4, Sat) made as much as it could of the Norma Jean fixation, conscious that it purchased for her tawdry suicide a depth it could not supply on its own. It was suggested that, like Marilyn, Mary Millington bed-hopped along the corridors of power. She was once summoned by the Shah of Persia (the little known sale of buns-to-Iran), but the programme could supply no photographic evidence that she pleasured the powerful, unless you count the snap of her sitting fully clothed on Jimmy Hill's knee (yes, knee).
The sugar daddies and dirty uncles who cherish her memory insist that she fought a useful fight against censorship. Among the freedoms she therefore helped bring about was the right to ogle at Eurotrash (C4, Fri), which seems to get franker with every passing frame, and Channel 5's "adult" programming. Announced last week, this will apparently stay onside taste- wise, but the boundary is growing ever hazier. The answer, surely, is to adopt the grading system used by soap powders: biological or non-biological.
From Mammon to God, midnight to mid-morning. In The Big Question (BBC1, Sun) Mark Lawson asks celebrities where they stand on His existence. Scheduled after matins with the Very Reverent David Frost, it's a wafer-thin quarter of an hour - 15 minutes of faith. Big questions run the risk of provoking small answers, and Sir Anthony Hopkins is no less qualified to supply these than the rest of us. Sir Anthony doesn't seem to believe in heaven, but may well recognise a hell in which he is condemned to a perpetuity of interviews about his recovery from alcoholism. Now and then, a grainy eye-view cut in from overhead, teasing you with the idea that somebody up there might be watching. If any vicars are reading, there's a trendy metaphor for tomorrow's sermon: God as security camera. Which begs another Big Question: does He still watch in black and white?
This is basically a chat show that happens not to be eponymously titled, because there's no more evidence that Lawson is curious about God's existence than there is of God's existence itself. Smillie's People (BBC1, every weekday), the first known instance of a chat show taking its name from a Cold War thriller, runs to the same length as Lawson's inquisition. It could almost be its little sister: The Small Question. "What about live concerts?" the grim interrogator grilled Lesley Garrett on Monday. "What have you got coming up?" Ve haf vays of making you plug
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