EVEN at the best of times, that cosy feeling of hunkering down on the sofa with a glass of wine to watch the autumn TV is pretty hard to beat.
But this year — and this month in particular as we are all at home — TV has moved centre stage for many of us.
After all, when it comes to entertainment, it’s all we’ve got.
And while I know there are many tough things about a locked-down life, one of the salvations has been the return of all our favourite shows to take our minds off this busted 2020.
Who doesn’t love the glitz, glamour and glitter of Strictly?
Not to mention, for some people at least, the intrigue that surrounds the famous Strictly Curse?
And then there is the annual pleasure that is I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here! where I have to watch some of the trials through my fingers, which are clamped firmly over my eyes because they are so excruciating.
But it’s the personal journeys that almost all of the contestants go on — intriguing, heart-warming and inspiring in equal measures — that make it such brilliant TV.
I guess some of them — and I will mention no names — have nothing to lose.
For some, going on to a reality TV show is their last-ditch attempt to breathe a gasp of life into a flagging career.
And no doubt the fees on offer are a deciding factor for others.
I have been invited ten times or more to participate in one or other of the celebrity shows, from the TV Jungle to Strictly and from Dragons’ Den to Bake Off.
But I can tell you now that there is no fee large enough to get me to sign up.
I have been tempted in the past, sometimes for all the wrong reasons though. I did almost do Strictly, but only out of defiance.
When I told my husband I had been asked to do it, he laughed so loudly and said that when I do dance I look like I’m looking for my keys.
So I thought for just a second, a nanosecond — “I will bloody well do it and bloody well show you.”
But then I thought of sharing my tango or Charleston “learning curve” with the nation and almost died of embarrassment just thinking about it.
When Dragons’ Den asked me, I did consider it until they told me there were 52 days of filming a year.
I mean, how on earth can you run your own business and do 52 days of filming?
When I was asked to stand in a hot tent making my signature bake, I pointed out that I use my smoke alarm as my timer, so it’s probably not a good idea.
Among many other things, I’ve been invited to do TV shows which include things such as herding cattle across America, teaching a bunch of out-of-control wayward girls to focus, survive with Bear Grylls, cycle 500km and endless, and I mean endless, quiz shows.
It’s a no from me to them all.
I’ve turned them down mainly because I don’t consider myself a celebrity, and nor do I want to be.
Any celebrity status I have is a side product of the work I have done, and the continued passion I have for that work.
Yes, sure, I’m on the TV as part of The Apprentice but I’m there in my capacity as a businesswoman and expert.
And being part of that show has shown me the brutal reality of what goes on behind the scenes of any TV show.
It’s hard work (when the voiceover on The Apprentice says it’s 2am, it really is 2am. Days are 12 hours long and it is filmed solidly for three weeks).
And I am not interested in fame. If an element of celebrity comes from the work I have done, so be it. But I am not in it for the fame.
I do not care about anything other than my family, friends and work.
So the idea of taking time out of my day job to taste fish eyes and kangaroo testicles, or lie in a dark coffin surrounded by snakes and rats, is nuts to me.
The last time I was asked to do I’m A Celebrity I told the producer that I would rather eat my own eyeballs. She said that could be arranged.
But watching other people do those things?
Well, since we aren’t allowed out for the next few weeks and since this may not be the last lockdown, when it comes to watching these shows, all I can say is: Bring it on!
Tribute's too much to bare
I HAVE tried really hard – honestly, I have.
But I am still genuinely puzzling over the thought process behind artist Maggi Hambling’s decision to depict Mary Wollstonecraft, known as the “mother of feminism”, naked in a sculpture that was unveiled last week in London’s Newington Green.
For those who aren’t familiar with her, Wollstonecraft was born in 1759 to a father who was a drunk, who squandered the family money and abused both Mary and her mother.
She overcame all that to educate herself (as a woman she obviously was not formally educated) and, at the age of 25, opened a boarding school for girls.
Aged 33 she wrote A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman, which imagined a social order where women were the equals of men, which might sound reasonable now but back then was downright radical.
And no doubt she would have gone on to even more amazing things but unfortunately she died at 38 following the birth of her daughter, the author Mary Shelley. Clearly, she was an amazing woman.
Can you imagine any artist choosing to create a naked statue of Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare, or any other historical figure famous for their achievements who happen to be male?
This new sculpture just utterly fails to understand the point of Mary Wollstonecraft – she was not a stripper.
Post-jab must dos
I THINK it’s probably true that most of us have feared at times life will never return to normal, in that we will never go back to how things were pre-Covid.
So much has changed in the past months.
But news we may have a vaccine as soon as spring gave us all a collective moment of realisation – this time shall pass.
It means all of the sacrifices and all the many things we have missed out on are just temporary.
I don’t think I had quite realised how resigned I had become to this new and very restricted way of living.
Even the most fortunate of us have been living under a very dark cloud of uncertainty and fear since February and the pressure of that is immense.
So while I know it will take time to roll out the vaccine, and there will probably be hitches along the way, I have spent the past few days feeling happier and more buoyant and optimistic than I have in a long while – and blimey, that feels good.
I for one will be having the vaccine as soon as it is offered to me and I’ve made a list of things I cannot wait to do, post-vaccine.
And at the top are seeing friends, going out to dinner – and getting supporters back at the football.
I JUST loved the photos of a make-up-free Victoria Beckham giving her daughter Harper a kiss goodbye.
She looks fresh-faced, natural and healthy, having dashed out of the house with wet hair and no make-up on.
We are so used to seeing her dressed up to the nines. And, as someone who is famed for her glamour, Victoria will no doubt have been horrified to be caught on camera looking so, well, au naturel.
The irony though, as she demonstrates so well in this photo, is that sometimes you look better without all the make-up and a pout.
Remember the victims of the Ripper
I CAN’T imagine there is anyone alive who will mourn the passing of Peter Sutcliffe, who died on Friday after refusing treatment in hospital for Covid.
He was in his seventies and had underlying health conditions in the form of diabetes and heart disease, so by refusing treatment he had clearly accepted it was time to go.
But in the wake of his death, rather than dwell on his horrific crimes I urge everyone to think instead of the children who were made motherless by this heartless, brutal man.
My thoughts go out to the families of all of his victims this week.
SO farewell then, Dominic Cummings, who has quit Downing Street ahead of his expected Christmas departure.
He has said, of course, that it was always part of his plan to make himself redundant and to leave the job – but then he would say that, wouldn’t he?
Much has been made of the fact that his exit was forced by a bunch of “meddling” women led by Boris Johnson’s fiancée, Carrie Symonds.
But – and this is just a thought – maybe it’s NOT because they are “meddling” women. Perhaps it’s just that they know best.
Always someone worse offI
IF you are struggling with a second lockdown and feeling sorry for yourself for not being able to go to the pub, spare a thought for men caught not wearing a mask in Indonesia.
They are forced to lie in coffins for several hours, clean sewers or lie in the scorching sun for 30 minutes – or do push-ups in the street.
Perhaps the worst punishment being handed out is being forced to dig graves for coronavirus victims to remind them of the importance of wearing a mask.
And here we were thinking that our rules – like being encouraged to dob your neighbour in for breaking lockdown – were harsh.
A good reminder that there’s always someone worse off.
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