Grace Dent on Television: The Exclusives, ITV2
'Miiiiiiitch!!!' screams Hayley the glamour model. 'I bet you wish Amy was here!!!'
There was a bit in the first serving of ITV2's new media-based search-for-a-journo romp The Exclusives which made me weep via its bleakness. No, really. I had a little tear. I don't write this in a hyperbolic, "I stabbed my eyes out and poured in Domestos," gonzo snore-rant sense. I simple did a little snivel.
The Exclusives had dispatched "six young journalist hopefuls!" to "the most exciting night of the showbiz calendar" with the task of finding "a scoop". This was actually the Brits, the night where CD distribution-plant admin staff from Hayes hire white Hummers then stride around a conference hall like Johnny Big Potatoes forcing grope'n'grin iPhone pics from Little Mix, and where any cocaine is probably heavily cut and double the street price, followed by many tricky-to-get-into after-parties that smell of farts.
Seriously, the very best place to watch the Brits is at home wearing a Snuggie surrounded by an assortment of valve-clogging M&S snacktreats, but these young berks from The Exclusives weren't to know this. My hopes weren't high for this "scoop", largely as the most promising of the hopefuls was Hayley, a glamour model clad in tit-tape and body-butter who'd had two massive glasses of oaky Plonk-onnay before leaving the "swanky London pad".
ITV2 put the kids up in the luxury apartment as a fair representation of where one can hope to abide in London on an unpaid editorial-assistant travel-expense wage. Things must have changed since I was an unpaid intern in the 1990s, as back then I lived in a shithole above a builder's merchants, right at the end of the Piccadilly Line, with a rotten floor, and one day on the way home from work – well I say work, it was just one endless round of begging to write and being told: "No you can't write! Get back in that cupboard and scrape model's toe-jam off the Miu Miu flip-flops, then go and source us all gluten-free veggie wraps, for it is the 1990s and we are all wheat intolerant unhinged posh girls filling time before marriage" – I actually fell through the rotten floor and nearly broke my back and the landlord slunk round and slung a crate of Fosters at me as compo and I was so hungry and depressed I drank it all, but, hey life was different in the 1990s.
The second reason I had misgivings about Hayley and the gang's "scoop" was that ITV2 ran one of those idiot-tax competitions in the ad break of The Exclusives which went: "Q: What is another name for an exclusive story? Is it: a) a scoop, b) a scrape c) a shovel." I had a strong hunch the 2013 Pulitzer was to remain largely untroubled.
So, the wannabe scribes are on the red carpet faced with the challenge of extracting "news" from the shower of herberts who pass by. Tinchy Stryder is the one recognisable name. Tinchy, on being asked what he was wearing, replies without a hint of irony: "Dior shades. Jus' keepin' it humble." It is 1am, he is stood in the dark wearing sunglasses and he says the "humble" part with a slight Dalai Lama head-tilt. Then Mitch Winehouse appears, shuffling along looking slightly tired and broken. "Miiiiiitch. Miiiiiiitch come here!" screams Hayley the glamour model, "Ooh Mitch, um, er, I BET YOU WISH AMY WAS HERE."
Mitch looks bewildered at the stupid girl, then slightly sorry for her, so he tries to answer, but as the words tumble out about his dead daughter, another hopeful, "Sunny", now clearly bored with this old and his grief malarkey, begins screaming "GAAAAAAAAREEETH" at another celeb. This was the part at which I did cry. This utter lack of empathy, tenderness or manners. Hayley the glamour model went on to win round one for displaying "the right attitude". I keep calling Hayley-the-glamour-model by her full title as this is how The Exclusives refers to her every single time she appears.
The opening shot of episode one is Hayley with her kit off doing a "hop on lads" glamour pose, followed by Hayley in her knickers getting a spray tan, followed by Hayley pleading with the judges to give her a place on The Exclusives "cos just cos she's a glamour model she wants to prove she's got a brain!"
I sat boggling on how modern life has screwed this young woman's sense of worth so greatly that blatantly she concedes that getting her tits out has diminished her stock, which she is adamant is "unjust", yet still she can't stop taking her kit off.
Thank God it was actually quite difficult to fall into glamour modelling in the 1990s and us rookie writers just lived on overdrafts, cans of Fosters and reduced-section Pop Tarts. We were never encouraged to think supplementing intern income via an ankle on each page of Nuts would be a tool of empowerment. Cosier times, indeed. Thus, the hunt for tomorrow's journalist superstar continues and so far not one word seems to have been written, aside from transcribing a tape of Michelle Bass, which the hopefuls found tough "as they don't speak Geordie". If Leveson were dead he'd be spinning in his grave.
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