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Eighteen feet in the grave

These Men have been told so often that they're dead ringers for the comedy character Victor Meldrew (played by Richard Wilson, fifth from left) that they responded to an advert calling for lookalikes to take part in the filming of this year's One Foot in the Grave Christmas special.

It isn't the glamorous end of the doppelganger market. The lucky ones get to be Marilyn, or Elvis, or Diana - but many more of us resemble Victor. All we need is a gaberdine, a hunted look and a flat cap.

In the mouth of a teenager, of course, the sentence, "You're just like Victor Meldrew!" is an unqualified insult. It means you're old, skeletal, terminally cantankerous, censorious and silly; instead of enjoying life, you dedicate yourself to spoiling the fun of others.

Most of us, though, carry a Meldrew within. Mark Twain famously said that, when he was a young man, he thought his father knew or understood nothing, but that - over the years - it was amazing how much his father seemed to have learnt. So, by the time one hits 40, Victor tends to become another person entirely.

I mean to say, what are the true characteristics of Victor? He is brave (sometimes to the point of recklessness), loyal, witty and not ungenerous. He is merely - and who is not? - exasperated by rudeness and crisp packets. Like us, he cannot believe it. !