Television prefers blondes
Saturday 26 October 1996
Take Ulrika Jonsson. This Nordic infiltrator has cunningly developed a multiple personality which allows her to pop up all over the television map. On one channel, she's a milkmaid, on another, a barmaid: you can tell which by her uniform. On this week's Shooting Stars (BBC2, Fri) - ladies' night, incidentally, in which 75 per cent of the ladies were blonde - she was buckled into a pair of racily crotchless chaps. On Des Res (LWT, Sun), a regional magazine show she presents on property and interior design, it's strictly floral print dresses and floaty cream blouses. When she introduced a feature on a family who have moved to a village called Whimple, you practically expected her to don the complementary headgear.
In a recent episode of Gladiators (ITV, Sat), she chanced upon a competitor called Johnny Alcock. "What a fabulous name!" she drooled, egged on by her black leather trousers. Then on Shooting Stars, quizmasters Vic and Bob asked her what a ballcock is. Alcock, ballcock? She must be working her way through the alphabet: next up, callcock, drillcock, and on through fullcock, nilcock, smallcock and tallcock. She's on the box so often she'll be on to zilchcock in a jiffy.
Blondeness is a broad church. In Vets' School (BBC1, Mon), token veterinary fairhead Trude Mostue was doing a good job living down to the stereotype. A bona fide Nordic milkmaid, she can't do injections to save her life, or anyone else's, and gets every question wrong. But her supervisor somehow contrived to give her a pass. The next best thing to making a pass. "Talk about Mr Jekyll and Dr Hyde," she mused, referring to the well known story by Steven Louis Robertson. "I don't understand him. Men!"
In Beck (BBC1, Wed), meanwhile, our eponymous heroine is still pretending that blondes can be blokes, of whom she's seeing two, which is fairly blokeish in itself. "I'm bad at imitations," she growled at one of her boyfriends. "I don't do wife." Some Rock Wives (C4 Sat) do and some don't. Kim Longinotto's rather ill-edited film looked up the other halves of the musicians, and concluded that the blondes don't do wife as well as the brunettes. Bebe Buell, blonde to quite near the roots of her hair, seems to have worked her way through half the Rock and Pop Music Hall of Fame: only now, at 42, is she actually marrying a musician. One of the groins she coupled with belonged to Rod Stewart, causing much post- coital regret. "I like my men a little bit more ... deep," she said. We never found out what she meant by "deep", so it's perhaps worth mentioning that in her autobiography Britt Ekland, another Nordic milkmaid, said she wasn't best pleased with the dimensions of Rod's rod (or rodcock, as it's known in Ulrika's lexicon).
Angie Bowie, poor love, has mutated into a mad peroxide fright, still making a living out of the story of how she once found her husband and Mick Jagger in bed together. With the benefit of hindsight, she now knows that nothing untoward could have happened between them. It's an empirical fact that a Rolling Stone will only mate with blondes. Blondes like Shirley Watts, a painfully shy dowager we found coping with rockwifery with a good deal more dignity (and, it has to be said, money).
Jagger may have been more seduced by the historian Andrew Roberts, a genetic blond from the same end of the political spectrum. Dressed in the modern firebrand's chainmail of charcoal pinstripes, Roberts delivered his own robust verdict on Suez (BBC2, Wed). It would be easier to sympathise with Roberts's case if his eyes didn't bulge so manically you worried your set had started transmitting in 3D. Apparently, Britain cocked up (upcocked?) the Suez Crisis by deigning to listen to "something called the world community" (which presumably doesn't exist any more than, according to another bug-eyed blonde, society itself exists). In Roberts's case, "historian" may actually be a contraction of "histrionic Aryan".
In Prime Suspect V (ITV, Sun and Mon), Jane Tennison was not killed off, despite the personal assurance that your reviewer received from Helen Mirren on set this summer that she'd been practising her death scene in the mirror. Blondes? You just can't get rid of them.
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