Advertising: When it comes to the crunch, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson is just like the rest of us

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The Independent Online

God knows, I've thought about Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. Unsuitable alliances. Curious accent pitched from behind the adenoids. Interesting antecedents. Links to the Royal Family. Column in Heat. Original "It" girl. Episodes of ill-health and therapeutic confinement. Short skirts. Difficult moment with Frank Skinner.

But now she's shaping up as a good little actress. At Christmas the Dale's Wedding spoof documentary was repeated and there was Tara, saying she'd had a big thing with Dale, that Nell McAndrew was a gold-digger, then breaking up and walking out on camera, all so consistent with the evidence of past Tara dippiness that I believed the whole thing for several seconds running.

Good little actress and nice little earner too. For some years now being Tara has been a proper business, with a proper grown-up agent and a policy. I've never seen her at a corporate bonding conference - wrong time of day possibly - but Tara can do lots. She was in a fast-food commercial once with Tamara Beckwith. Tamara was tremendously "on" in her 50s sex-kitten sort of way but Tara seemed a bit... out of it.

In her new Walker's crisps commercial they've gone to the heart of the velvet-rope, sponsored-party, five-times-a-night, it's-all-for-the-pictures world. The democratic high-growth high-yield modern celebrity world. Walkers has put Tara in one of those stretch limos hired by a hen party from Enfield to take them on the town. It's got the deep-pile purple Dralon shag upholstery, the New Jersey Italian look. And Tara's at work, doing the parties. She's leaving one ("Darling, fabulous, we'll do lunch") and on to the next, reviewing the invitations, checking out the last goodie bag ("a platinum ankle watch, so yesterday"). And, poor darling, she's bored rigid. Five parties a night for 10 years, it gets to you. All she wants is someone who really, really loves her and eggs on toast in front of a nice fire somewhere in Glos'.

But for now it's still "where next"? The chauffeur suggests the product. It's called honey roasted ham Sensations: posh crisps, a special edition. They hit the spot, she's kicked her Manolos off; she's going all orgasmic in a this-is-too-good-for-common-people way. Then the driver grabs them back and she's banging on the glass divider, saying something utterly ridiculous like "give them back, you jagged commoner" (it's Gary Lineker, of course).

In a time gone by, seriously grand people had two safe subjects for mercifully brief conversations with people from the other world - the weather and traffic (the Queen Mother had another, flowers). Now there's a richer, wider strand of national cohesion; celebrity world. Almost single-handed, Tara has brought people together; she's a sort of one-woman Truth and Reconciliation Commission.