Peter York on Ads: A bit north of Watford, Cat's got the power

Garnier Fructis haircare
Click to follow
The Independent Online

I always wondered which one Cat Deeley was. That's the thing with the new generation of presenterines. The processes they've been through - hair-ironing, dental improvements, pitching the voice up, down or sideways to achieve a mildly enthusiastic estuarine whatever the background - does make them seem very similar. They're better turned out than their predecessors - some of them men of course, just think of Buerk's Complaint - but it's reduced the potential national-treasure factor. Which of these girls will go on to play Hilda Ogden? Who will become Thora Hird. Or even Cilla?

I don't want to overdo this, Michael Buerk's rant about the feminisation of everything - after they'd replaced him with various Notting Hill women - left him looking a very Grumpy Old Man. But one does like the power of personality to come through.

I do know which one Cat Deeley is now, thanks to Laboratoire Garnier, the second brand of the Swisso-Franco-American global hair and beauty corporation L'Oreal, part owned by Nestlé, the Swisso-Franco-American global food empire (any ad with Catwill be for the UK only).

Actually Cat is the one who presented Fame Academy with the Irishman, and she's a bit more luscious-looking than the average blonde presenterine who's overdone the diet. And she's also what we intellectuals call a bit... north of Watford. I suspect research shows girls think she's more approachable and likeable for all that.

She's talking about hair abuse. She abuses her hair - it's so dry it's scary, she says, wearing a comic straw wig.

But now Cat's got the power. She's got it from Garnier Fructis New Formula Repair and Shine. First aid for hair, she calls it, and a green cross appears. After that she's in the classic flowing hair shot and everything looks lovely. She also does marching to camera, like some women in the L'Oreal ads. But Garnier's positioning is subtly different, less full-on, full-colour glamour, more sleek science and a suggestion of organics. This new Fructis formula has avocado micro-oils which strengthen dried-up hair from deep within and create intense shine. Which gives Cat the strength to shine too.

If you were, say, the University of Strathclyde Department of Media Studies and broke down the semantics and semiotics of all this you'd see a 19th-century evangelistic core as in "this little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine". Which raises the insistent little question; could Cat Deeley mellow into Gracie Fields?