Rebecca Tyrrel: 'Chandler Bing thought his third nipple opened a gateway to Narnia'

Saturday 28 January 2012 01:00

Who knew that Clive Dunn, better known as Corporal Jones from Dad's Army, was born with a third nipple? Don't panic, don't panic! Far more people have them than you might think. The 'supernumerary' nipple is diagnosed in as many as one in 18 males, though for hormonal reasons (it is thought to be a sign of virility) it is far less common in females, with about one in 50 completing the hat-trick.

The most celebrated third nippler of all time, with apologies to Mr Dunn, is James Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga. He is so closely connected with the superfluous appendage (not that anyone knows why men have the other two) that it's often referred to as 'the Scaramanga' by the thrice blessed. Daniel Craig also has one, and if they remake The Man With the Golden Gun while Craig is 007, it might be renamed The Two Men With the Six Golden Nipples. Then again, it might not.

Others within the tight-knit tri-nipple community, real and fictional, are Lily Allen (she showed hers off on Dutch television), Mark Wahlberg (you can see his in the film, Shooter), Chandler Bing from Friends (as a small boy, he was convinced that pressing it opened a gateway to Narnia), the late Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones (he kept his on his inner thigh), Bart Simpson's comic idol Krusty the Clown, and Tilda Swinton who says, "I've always been very proud of it".

Clive Dunn was not proud of his. As a child, presumably after going to his mother to ask, "Permission to speak, mother, please may I have my third nipple removed?", he had surgery and very nearly died from post-operative complications. But don't panic, don't panic, if you have one you want rid of – Dunn is now 92 and in the late 1920s of his childhood, surgery was not as safe as it is today. Perhaps the young Clive, like those in medieval days, believed the superfluous nip was for demons to suckle on.

In these enlightened days, however, most tri-nipplers prefer the loud'n'proud Swinton line, while hard-liners are even suspected of looking down on the bi-nippled as tediously staid and conventional. In fact, considering that, with the 'pseudomamma', another name for the third nip is the 'accessory nipple', there is a gaping commercial gap for a tie-up between a leading prosthetics manufacturer and the good folk at Prada. How are you planning to wear your third nipple this spring?

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