Friday 18 September 1998
This is not necessarily a flaw of the format, even though its jerky jumpcuts make an assumption about the attention-span of its audience which is precisely the opposite of that made by soaps. I belong to that sector of the population who know too much about football, and I still found it possible to retrieve the odd nugget from The Truth about Footballers. But the cat is already out of the bag with soaps and their stars: the front page is routinely held for them, whenever one turns out to be an alcoholic, or an ex-con who did time for murder. (Yes, the above culprits appeared here, and no, none of them talked about their tribulations.)
The symbiosis between soaps and tabloids was illustrated by a video diary of that fleshy beauty from Emmerdale who has just started presenting You've Been Framed (and has thus put me in the unusual bind of finding myself pining for Jeremy Beadle). Her day at the office includes a paper stop on her chauffeur-driven way to the set, where she checks the red-tops for stories about herself. We needn't dwell on the monstrous vanity that daily habit implies, but merely note that the insatiable thirst for soaps has granted newspapers an ever-renewable means of shoring up circulation.
A pallid tour of the soaps' celebrity fans and its besieged sets was never going to do much more than reheat innocuous tittle-tattle. For the benefit of visiting Uranians, the documentary's shop-soiled findings may as well be recorded here. Unlike their characters, actors are not always cockneys/ Lancastrians/farmers. Some fans fill the void of their vacuous existence by obsessively recording and databasing soap plotlines. And the sets are usually made of reinforced plywood. Not unlike programmes like this.
I note with some trepidation that the format's next outing is The Truth about Sex.
The Shop (BBC1), a satisfyingly frank ramble around Selfridges, has now found its stars and is sticking with them: the camp salesman in Shirts and Ties, the vaudevillian furniture-buyer from Italy, the two larger- than-life female store detectives. Not long from now, every big institution will vet job applicants for tele-friendliness, pending the day the docusoap camera crew arrives. This week a presentation fascist turned up in the Ralph Lauren concession to tell staff how to fold jeans correctly. An employee rolled his eyeballs and confided that "big egos have to be sated: it's fashion, darling". He may one day be able to tell The Truth about Docusoaps how not long afterwards he was back on the job market himself.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant