Celebrity: A 21st Century Story
Penguins: Meet The Family HHHHI
Say what you like about her, but in my book Katie Price is great. I have never interviewed the reality show star and ex-glamour model, or even met her.
However, I honestly admire the way she forces the showbiz world to accept her gravely disabled son.
Harvey, her 18-year-old, is autistic, partially blind and suffers from the genetic condition Prader-Willi syndrome.
From his early days, Katie has insisted magazine editors put him on their covers with her. She even took him along when she met the Queen in 2007.
Say what you like about her, but in my book Katie Price is great. I have never interviewed the reality show star and ex-glamour model, or even met her, writes CHRISTOPHER STEVENS
In an era obsessed with shallow fame, no woman has been more brashly concerned with her media image than Katie Price.
Her fierce, unashamed pride in her son has done an immense amount to help all disabled children, bringing them off the sidelines.
Half a century ago, boys like Harvey were too often confined out of sight in institutions. Thanks to his brassy mum, he’s on the front of the glossies with her.
Celebrity: A 21st Century Story (BBC2) was more interested in the melodramatic antics of Katie and her alter ego, Jordan — drunkenly spilling out of taxis and dresses, turning her life into a peep show.
The first of a four-part documentary on the nature of post-millennium fame, this episode took a lofty and condescending view of how she manipulated the tabloids to earn notoriety and cash.
But it failed to appreciate how many parents of disabled children are quietly grateful for her unapologetic stance.
I honestly admire the way she forces the showbiz world to accept her gravely disabled son
Others featured in the hour were less praiseworthy. American journalist Nancy Jo Sales told how, when she first met hotel heiress Paris Hilton, the 22-year-old told her: ‘I want to be famous.’
Sales naively wondered aloud whether she wanted to be known as a singer, perhaps, a dancer or an actress. ‘Oh no,’ said Paris. ‘I just wanna be famous. Just . . . famous!’
This series explores how fame for its own sake became the norm for celebrity. In the 20th century, stars were people with astonishing talents, like Olympic athlete Jesse Owens, or unearthly charisma, such as Greta Garbo.
Since the advent of phone-in fame, through Big Brother and the flood of reality TV shows that followed, talent and charisma are not simply superfluous — they are regarded with suspicion.
The public expects its stars to be thicker than average and satisfyingly plain beneath their fake tan and make-up.
Now celebrity is a disposable commodity, talent is pointless, even wasteful. You might as well expect a throwaway party dress to be sewn from good-quality cloth. Why pay for that?
This documentary was slightly too snobbish to understand that, but it continues each night until New Year’s Day. It’ll be worth watching to see whether the penny drops.
Every minute of Penguins: Meet The Family (BBC1) was worth watching, not because it offered anything new but because . . . well, it was crammed with penguins.
It was a collection of clips drawn from the Beeb’s archives, featuring all 18 species of penguin, from the Humboldts in Peru to the Emperors in the Antarctic.
Some of the segments were well known, such as the Adelie penguins stealing pebbles from each other’s nests, filmed for Frozen Planet in 2016.
Others were rarely seen delights and included African penguins making nocturnal forays through Cape Town’s streets and Magellanics at sea with cameras strapped to their backs.
And there’s always more to learn. Have a guess which country is home to more types of penguin than any other. It’s New Zealand.
As they say in celebrity-land . . . who knew?