Deborah Ross: That Jeremy Clarkson only gets on TV because of his looks

If you ask me...

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If you ask me, as well you might, I thought I should point out, as no one else has yet, that the Sunday Times journalist AA Gill was absolutely spot on when he said that anyone who appears on television should be well-groomed and those who might be considered "ugly" should be kept "away from the cameras altogether".

Generally, this is upheld pretty well across most of the channels. Indeed, would AA Gill's close friend Jeremy Clarkson, for example, have got his job on Top Gear if he weren't so very pleasing to the eye? As the great communicator and brilliantly clever classicist Mary Beard has said: "I fancy him like mad. He's a dish. Who does his hair, do we know?" And as the excellent, all-round presenter Clare Balding has added: "He's drop-dead gorgeous. If anyone could turn me, it would be him. If you find out who does his hair, could you please, please tell me before you tell Mary? I don't want her stealing the march. I would DIE to have hair like that." As for the stonewashed denims, they both concur: "They are terrific. Who is his stylist, do we know?"

Mr Gill, I am guessing, probably learnt there is no place on TV for males who do not conform to glossy stereotypes, no matter what they have to say, from childhood. His father was Michael Gill, the BBC director and producer responsible for creating Civilisation: A Personal View by Kenneth Clark and Alistair Cooke's America, and while Clark would, in today's parlance, definitely be described as "hot totty", Cooke was noted as the most ravishing beauty of his day. "I don't have a clue about America, and don't give a shit," Cooke is known to have once remarked, "but, my God, I look good, and my hair? Isn't it super? Doesn't it shine like glass?"

As for Lord Clark, he was somewhat quieter on the subject, although he is on record as having once said, rather bitterly: "I hate it when people say I was given Civilisation simply because of my looks, even though I don't know the first thing about art history, am ill-equipped to make complex subjects accessible, and really only like shopping. I can shop till I drop, me."

As for Mr Gill himself, he is as much a victim of such body fascism, misandry, sexism and general shallow thinking as anyone. Once screen-tested for the role of co-host on Masterchef, he lost out to the fantastically more handsome, infinitely sexier Gregg Wallace. "Gregg also floats my boat," Mary has said, "Yum, yum." And as Clare has said: "If he had any hair, what I'd like to know is: who would do it? Who, who, who?"

d.ross@independent.co.uk

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