Television Review: Desperately Seeking Stardom

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The Independent Culture
YOU CAN only gawp at the shamelessness of Desperately Seeking Stardom (ITV). It's about six pretty people cohabiting in roomy premises that in real life they would occupy only in their wildest dreams. Of the girls, one is hopelessly superficial, one's kooky, and one's got a thing about older men. Of the boys, there's the preening dolt, and the one with the quip for all occasions, who confusingly looks not like Chandler but Ross. And then there's Chris. Unfortunately, I can't fit Chris into this documentary pastiche of Friends, what with his startling resemblance to Robin Askwith of the Confessions series of low-budget soft-boiled 1970s British sex capers. His closest equivalent is Joey, but only because, like everyone else in the house, he is an unemployed actor.

We are in LA, where the programme has installed these nobodies in a nice house, and is following them around in an attempt to paint a picture of what it takes to make it in Hollywood. Unlike previous starmaking docu-soaps, though, here we have dispensed with the pretence that the programme is not colluding in furthering their careers. These aspiring actors are only in it because, in the great lottery of showbiz, the series will have been worth making even if it only reduces the odds stacked against them by an infinitesimal margin. You never know what might swing it.

Chris comes from Kent, or the "Garden of England", as he described it in an audition with the director of a local Shakespeare theatre. He possibly said this in the hope that it might make him seem more authentically English, which might in turn get him the part, in which he might be spotted by a talent scout, cast in a movie in which he gives a brilliant performance in a small role, securing him the supporting part in a bigger movie that does great business, taking him inexorably on to a lead role in a blockbuster, an Oscar nomination, stardom, celebrity and...

Meanwhile, back in reality, the six are taking acting class, paid for, you suspect, by the programme, which would never otherwise get them in the same room. The acting coach is clearly a voyeur, because Chris and the lovely Camilla (from Somerset) spend most of their time in class simulating sex. First, they did the fake orgasm scene from When Harry Met Sally. They rehearsed it, and as Camilla reached her climax she hugged her dog ecstatically. I worry about Camilla, who rather reminds me of that other star of Friends, Fergie.

But not as much as I worry about Deanna and Daniel, the two most stupidly beautiful ones, who are heading inexorably for a career in skin flicks. Deanna auditioned for the role of a naked woman who covers herself in honey and is stung to death by bees. She didn't get it, but there'll be others. Before this weird hybrid of a programme disappears down the toilet, like the careers of all who sail in her, I'd just like to say that my favourite ones are Leo, who is basically Chandler (but looks like Ross), and Robyn, who is Phoebe. But I'd rather watch the (un)real thing.