Television Review

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The Independent Culture
WHEN I WAS about ten years old, during his premiership, someone told me an Edward Heath joke. Q. Why does Edward Heath wear swimming trunks in the bath? A. Because he doesn't like to look down on the unemployed. I didn't get it. (What, Edward Heath doesn't pee?) Eventually I did, though; the joke also implied that he was socially concerned, in a sort of inept way - a figure of fun, but not a roaring one, and, well, not just that he was sexless, but that there was something not quite right about him. He wasn't patrician like Macmillan, shifty like Wilson, doltish like Callaghan, or the quintessence of all human evil like Thatcher.

So Edward Heath: a Profile (BBC2) was unexpectedly interesting, fleshing out, as it were (for he has fleshed himself out, literally, very well) the man Wilson described as "a shiver looking for a spine to run up". We learned that he was a mummy's boy ("Everything revolved around Teddy", said his sister-in-law), had found out enough about Nazism before the war to speak out against appeasement, and became pro-European after it in order that this kind of thing never happened again.

But what we really wanted was some spleen about his successor as leader of the Tories. We had to wait for this. His interviewer, Michael Cockerell, watching a clip of his election victory, said "you don't look very elated". "Do you expect me," said Heath, "to throw up my arms and say `rejoice, rejoice'?"

When Thatcher lost the leadership "it was said you rang your office and said `rejoice, rejoice'." "I said it three times," replied Heath. "Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice." (Big grin.) Now that was more like it. The film-makers also had some fun with their editing. When Thatcher ran against him, it was claimed that he said to her, "you'll lose". "I never said anything of the sort." (Long pause.) "Lady Thatcher is entitled to her own views." (Fantastically long pause.)

We shouldn't be too sympathetic, though (Heath treated nearly all Cockerell's questions with contempt), nor take Sir Edward as a reliable witness to his own talents. As a clip of him speaking French had him reaffirm his belief in his own linguistic ability, his accent, as a matter of record, was the worst you will ever hear in your life.

Clive James, who is not quite as fat, and not quite as sexy as Edward Heath, received the gruelling assignment of following Naomi Campbell around for Paris Fashion Week (Clive James Meets the Supermodels, LWT). Actually, this really did look pretty gruelling, as most of the time was spent waiting for Ms Campbell to get out of bed. But Clive, looking for the whole programme long as if he was trying to tuck his stomach in and not drool at the same time, forgave this spoilt, selfish and conceited bubblehead, and reminded us, again and again, that Naomi Campbell is (a) very beautiful (b) very famous and, (c) desired by Clive James. What a delightful image that conjured up. A younger model, 17-year-old Haylynn Cohen, who seems to have her head screwed on, reminded us about the ephemerality of her profession. "People get fat, and ugly." So how, then, could the cameraman resist the slow, cruel pan to James's own face?