Television Review

IT'S ODD that so many films have been based on the premise that blondes have more fun, when the biographies of the blondes who appear in the films hardly ever bear that out: look at Brigitte Bardot (animal freak) or Marilyn Monroe (suicide) or Veronica Lake (ended up as a waitress). Or look at our own Diana Dors, who ended up as a kitsch joke.

One thing to be said in favour of The Blonde Bombshell (ITV), a two-part drama about "Britain's answer to Marilyn", is that it at least tries to take her seriously. Another is that it started well, with a small but clever reversal of expectation: in a classroom, a teacher called on Diana to read out her essay on what she wants to be when she grows up. The camera roved across the classroom to a ringleted blonde moppet with a knowing smile; then, behind her, a mousy girl with glasses and a patch over one eye stood up to announce that she wanted to be a Hollywood star.

After that, though, it was a feast of corn: drama school turned out ill- equipped to cope with our heroine's free spirit; her first love found himself edged out in favour of a fast, glamorous lifestyle; she fell for a charming conman who broke her heart and wrecked her chances in Hollywood. Presumably this wasn't miles away from the facts of Dors's life, but the treatment showed the same paucity of imagination that afflicted her career. At one point a series of clapperboards flashed by: Man Bait, A Kid for Two Farthings, My Wife's Lodger, The Weak and the Wicked - it's hardly a catalogue of celluloid classics. It was implied that her failure to make it really big was down to her husband, Dennis Hamilton (played by Rupert Graves as a kind of psycho-spiv-rodent). But it surely says something about Britain's postwar exhaustion, and our historical confusion about sex, that nobody knew how to use Dors's plush sensuality.

The casting was peculiar, too: Keely Hawes, as the young Diana, gave off an air of watchful self-containment; whereas what you associate with the real thing is a lack of restraint. Flirting with the press ("Hello boys"), Hawes couldn't help sounding slightly sarcastic; re-creating film scenes, she had an air of thoroughly modern naturalism. It's not really Hawes's fault, but watching her isn't any fun at all.

In an edition of Equinox (C4) called "Sweden, Sex and the Disappearing Doctors", Fisher Dilke went off to explore the Swedish eugenics scandal. Between 1935 and 1974 around 63,000 Swedes were sterilised, often because they were "feeble-minded" or "anti-social" - which might mean no more than being a juvenile delinquent, or a pregnant teenager. Unfortunately but understandably, few Swedes wanted to talk about this aspect of their past, which led to some shots of blondes having very little fun as Dilke badgered them. It probably didn't help when he went around making careless comparisons to the Holocaust: I don't want to excuse the project or minimise the grief of its victims, but nobody was put to death here. The programme ended up as a clumsy hybrid of a proper documentary and a Nick Broomfield- style film about not making a film. Dilke would have done better to have cut his losses and not make a film at all.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition