Tag Archives: Celebrity

Ant McPartlin is a celebrity, but do we forget he’s a human being? | Ros Coward

Ant McPartlin’s celebrity has been built on a perennially boyish, cheeky-chappy image, always at ease in front of the camera. The image he presented following his sentencing for drink-driving, after a collision in which other people were injured, could not have been more different. Gaunt face, furrowed brow, and dark bags under worried eyes, he looked in no fit state to have cameras shoved in his face. But a press that has built him up is not going to miss the opportunity for close-up scrutiny of his downfall to addiction and depression. His haggard face covered front pages: “Ant’s court shame”, “Ant’s guilt”, “Shamefaced!” chorused the captions. The Daily Mail had the nastiest dig at its former darling: “A picture of self-pity, drink drive Ant fined £86,000 (and that’s just 4 days’ wages).”

These same papers have recently reported, with approval, attempts to improve the treatment of mental health, including Theresa May’s rhetorical promise to transform how the issue is dealt with. But when it comes to their relationship with celebrities, self-awareness and responsible reporting of psychological distress is too much to expect.

Celebrities are the lifeblood of much of our popular journalism, and ambivalence is the name of the game. Personalities are elevated through endless attention to every detail of their lives – look no further than the current obsession with Meghan Markle’s every outfit, her dogs’ names and her estranged relatives.

But this is envious attention, waiting – even hoping – for the celebrity to crash and suffer, or to behave in ways that will justify spiteful commentary. When celebrities really come down to earth, or even die, there is a ghoulish interest in the details of their suffering, especially if there’s a suggestion that they were, after all, not happy with their previously enviable celebrity lives. The bear-baiting treatment of Amy Winehouse and Frank Bruno were examples of this. Dale Winton’s death this week offers the opportunity for a sort of voyeuristic interest in the details of his depression.

Ant, particularly as part of Ant and Dec, plays an interesting role in the machinery of British celebrity. The duo’s core television work has been precisely in the area of celebrity making and breaking. They are the front team for Britain’s Got Talent, a show where celebrities are discovered among “ordinary” people and become fodder for the popular press. The pair’s sensitive handling of Susan Boyle after her first performance turned her into a megastar. But they also front I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here, where famous people are tested and hopefully – from the perspective of “good” television – broken. Created or destroyed, all of it feeds the needs of the celebrity media conveyor belt.

Ant McPartlin with Declan Donnelly in Byker Grove.


Ant McPartlin (right) with Declan Donnelly in Byker Grove. Photograph: BBC

Ant and Dec are the innocent face of this celebrity supply machine. They are boyish and good natured, they put participants at ease and guide them through tantrums and disappointments. They have an unusually benign rapport with each other – most showbusiness couples have more edge. Away from the shows, their lives have, until now, been relatively blameless: they don’t behave badly; they take their mothers to the Palace for their gongs; and, phew, they have even married women just when the tabloids were beginning to wonder. Their brand of wholesomeness, playful entertainment and sympathetic rapport with participants is massively important for ITV. By appearing decent and deserving themselves, they make this kind of entertainment, even through its low points, seem acceptable: a quest for innocent celebrity fun.

In some respects, Ant and Dec really are deserving. They have certainly worked hard. Ant was brought up by a single mother in Newcastle, and first came to fame as a child actor in the TV series Byker Grove, which is where he met Declan Donnelly. They became friends and after a brief detour into pop, found TV presenting. They’ve lived their lives in the spotlight ever since. And while they now earn fabulous amounts, as the Mail was quick to remind us, their work is far from glamorous. They deal with the unedifying process of celebrity making and breaking from the inside.

On Britain’s Got Talent this means dealing with the casting of suitable subjects, and all the artificialities behind the scenes. On I’m a Celebrity, they hang around in sordid conditions outside a fake jungle, holding at bay teams from countries waiting to take over the set, and witnessing endless negotiations with the celebs.

This may be enough to drive anyone to drink or to something worse, which itself provides new script lines for a macabre and interactive public soap opera.

It’s more than just a powerful irony that McPartlin’s downfall played out this week in the media’s full glare. His clean personality has helped to mask the darker process of celebrification, and made the goal of fame seem unproblematic. His cheerfulness has hidden the downside of fame, the envious hostility it awakens. So perhaps it’s also poetic justice he finds himself mocked by a media that cares little for his distress. There’s an obligatory sequel to the celebrity narrative of “Build them up and knock them down”, an episode called “Let’s see if they can get up again”.

McPartlin’s tortured appearance suggests he knows the arc as well as the public. But what does our appetite for this recurring drama say about us? We could look away now and not allow ourselves to get caught up in the process of another human unravelling. Once we might have done so. At least we might have seemed reluctant to be part of the cavalcade. Now we are integral to it. Is that where we want to be?

Ros Coward is a professor of journalism at Roehampton University

Ant McPartlin is a celebrity, but do we forget he’s a human being? | Ros Coward

Ant McPartlin’s celebrity has been built on a perennially boyish, cheeky-chappy image, always at ease in front of the camera. The image he presented following his sentencing for drink-driving, after a collision in which other people were injured, could not have been more different. Gaunt face, furrowed brow, and dark bags under worried eyes, he looked in no fit state to have cameras shoved in his face. But a press that has built him up is not going to miss the opportunity for close-up scrutiny of his downfall to addiction and depression. His haggard face covered front pages: “Ant’s court shame”, “Ant’s guilt”, “Shamefaced!” chorused the captions. The Daily Mail had the nastiest dig at its former darling: “A picture of self-pity, drink drive Ant fined £86,000 (and that’s just 4 days’ wages).”

These same papers have recently reported, with approval, attempts to improve the treatment of mental health, including Theresa May’s rhetorical promise to transform how the issue is dealt with. But when it comes to their relationship with celebrities, self-awareness and responsible reporting of psychological distress is too much to expect.

Celebrities are the lifeblood of much of our popular journalism, and ambivalence is the name of the game. Personalities are elevated through endless attention to every detail of their lives – look no further than the current obsession with Meghan Markle’s every outfit, her dogs’ names and her estranged relatives.

But this is envious attention, waiting – even hoping – for the celebrity to crash and suffer, or to behave in ways that will justify spiteful commentary. When celebrities really come down to earth, or even die, there is a ghoulish interest in the details of their suffering, especially if there’s a suggestion that they were, after all, not happy with their previously enviable celebrity lives. The bear-baiting treatment of Amy Winehouse and Frank Bruno were examples of this. Dale Winton’s death this week offers the opportunity for a sort of voyeuristic interest in the details of his depression.

Ant, particularly as part of Ant and Dec, plays an interesting role in the machinery of British celebrity. The duo’s core television work has been precisely in the area of celebrity making and breaking. They are the front team for Britain’s Got Talent, a show where celebrities are discovered among “ordinary” people and become fodder for the popular press. The pair’s sensitive handling of Susan Boyle after her first performance turned her into a megastar. But they also front I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here, where famous people are tested and hopefully – from the perspective of “good” television – broken. Created or destroyed, all of it feeds the needs of the celebrity media conveyor belt.

Ant McPartlin with Declan Donnelly in Byker Grove.


Ant McPartlin (right) with Declan Donnelly in Byker Grove. Photograph: BBC

Ant and Dec are the innocent face of this celebrity supply machine. They are boyish and good natured, they put participants at ease and guide them through tantrums and disappointments. They have an unusually benign rapport with each other – most showbusiness couples have more edge. Away from the shows, their lives have, until now, been relatively blameless: they don’t behave badly; they take their mothers to the Palace for their gongs; and, phew, they have even married women just when the tabloids were beginning to wonder. Their brand of wholesomeness, playful entertainment and sympathetic rapport with participants is massively important for ITV. By appearing decent and deserving themselves, they make this kind of entertainment, even through its low points, seem acceptable: a quest for innocent celebrity fun.

In some respects, Ant and Dec really are deserving. They have certainly worked hard. Ant was brought up by a single mother in Newcastle, and first came to fame as a child actor in the TV series Byker Grove, which is where he met Declan Donnelly. They became friends and after a brief detour into pop, found TV presenting. They’ve lived their lives in the spotlight ever since. And while they now earn fabulous amounts, as the Mail was quick to remind us, their work is far from glamorous. They deal with the unedifying process of celebrity making and breaking from the inside.

On Britain’s Got Talent this means dealing with the casting of suitable subjects, and all the artificialities behind the scenes. On I’m a Celebrity, they hang around in sordid conditions outside a fake jungle, holding at bay teams from countries waiting to take over the set, and witnessing endless negotiations with the celebs.

This may be enough to drive anyone to drink or to something worse, which itself provides new script lines for a macabre and interactive public soap opera.

It’s more than just a powerful irony that McPartlin’s downfall played out this week in the media’s full glare. His clean personality has helped to mask the darker process of celebrification, and made the goal of fame seem unproblematic. His cheerfulness has hidden the downside of fame, the envious hostility it awakens. So perhaps it’s also poetic justice he finds himself mocked by a media that cares little for his distress. There’s an obligatory sequel to the celebrity narrative of “Build them up and knock them down”, an episode called “Let’s see if they can get up again”.

McPartlin’s tortured appearance suggests he knows the arc as well as the public. But what does our appetite for this recurring drama say about us? We could look away now and not allow ourselves to get caught up in the process of another human unravelling. Once we might have done so. At least we might have seemed reluctant to be part of the cavalcade. Now we are integral to it. Is that where we want to be?

Ros Coward is a professor of journalism at Roehampton University

Ant McPartlin is a celebrity, but do we forget he’s a human being? | Ros Coward

Ant McPartlin’s celebrity has been built on a perennially boyish, cheeky-chappy image, always at ease in front of the camera. The image he presented following his sentencing for drink-driving, after a collision in which other people were injured, could not have been more different. Gaunt face, furrowed brow, and dark bags under worried eyes, he looked in no fit state to have cameras shoved in his face. But a press that has built him up is not going to miss the opportunity for close-up scrutiny of his downfall to addiction and depression. His haggard face covered front pages: “Ant’s court shame”, “Ant’s guilt”, “Shamefaced!” chorused the captions. The Daily Mail had the nastiest dig at its former darling: “A picture of self-pity, drink drive Ant fined £86,000 (and that’s just 4 days’ wages).”

These same papers have recently reported, with approval, attempts to improve the treatment of mental health, including Theresa May’s rhetorical promise to transform how the issue is dealt with. But when it comes to their relationship with celebrities, self-awareness and responsible reporting of psychological distress is too much to expect.

Celebrities are the lifeblood of much of our popular journalism, and ambivalence is the name of the game. Personalities are elevated through endless attention to every detail of their lives – look no further than the current obsession with Meghan Markle’s every outfit, her dogs’ names and her estranged relatives.

But this is envious attention, waiting – even hoping – for the celebrity to crash and suffer, or to behave in ways that will justify spiteful commentary. When celebrities really come down to earth, or even die, there is a ghoulish interest in the details of their suffering, especially if there’s a suggestion that they were, after all, not happy with their previously enviable celebrity lives. The bear-baiting treatment of Amy Winehouse and Frank Bruno were examples of this. Dale Winton’s death this week offers the opportunity for a sort of voyeuristic interest in the details of his depression.

Ant, particularly as part of Ant and Dec, plays an interesting role in the machinery of British celebrity. The duo’s core television work has been precisely in the area of celebrity making and breaking. They are the front team for Britain’s Got Talent, a show where celebrities are discovered among “ordinary” people and become fodder for the popular press. The pair’s sensitive handling of Susan Boyle after her first performance turned her into a megastar. But they also front I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here, where famous people are tested and hopefully – from the perspective of “good” television – broken. Created or destroyed, all of it feeds the needs of the celebrity media conveyor belt.

Ant McPartlin with Declan Donnelly in Byker Grove.


Ant McPartlin (right) with Declan Donnelly in Byker Grove. Photograph: BBC

Ant and Dec are the innocent face of this celebrity supply machine. They are boyish and good natured, they put participants at ease and guide them through tantrums and disappointments. They have an unusually benign rapport with each other – most showbusiness couples have more edge. Away from the shows, their lives have, until now, been relatively blameless: they don’t behave badly; they take their mothers to the Palace for their gongs; and, phew, they have even married women just when the tabloids were beginning to wonder. Their brand of wholesomeness, playful entertainment and sympathetic rapport with participants is massively important for ITV. By appearing decent and deserving themselves, they make this kind of entertainment, even through its low points, seem acceptable: a quest for innocent celebrity fun.

In some respects, Ant and Dec really are deserving. They have certainly worked hard. Ant was brought up by a single mother in Newcastle, and first came to fame as a child actor in the TV series Byker Grove, which is where he met Declan Donnelly. They became friends and after a brief detour into pop, found TV presenting. They’ve lived their lives in the spotlight ever since. And while they now earn fabulous amounts, as the Mail was quick to remind us, their work is far from glamorous. They deal with the unedifying process of celebrity making and breaking from the inside.

On Britain’s Got Talent this means dealing with the casting of suitable subjects, and all the artificialities behind the scenes. On I’m a Celebrity, they hang around in sordid conditions outside a fake jungle, holding at bay teams from countries waiting to take over the set, and witnessing endless negotiations with the celebs.

This may be enough to drive anyone to drink or to something worse, which itself provides new script lines for a macabre and interactive public soap opera.

It’s more than just a powerful irony that McPartlin’s downfall played out this week in the media’s full glare. His clean personality has helped to mask the darker process of celebrification, and made the goal of fame seem unproblematic. His cheerfulness has hidden the downside of fame, the envious hostility it awakens. So perhaps it’s also poetic justice he finds himself mocked by a media that cares little for his distress. There’s an obligatory sequel to the celebrity narrative of “Build them up and knock them down”, an episode called “Let’s see if they can get up again”.

McPartlin’s tortured appearance suggests he knows the arc as well as the public. But what does our appetite for this recurring drama say about us? We could look away now and not allow ourselves to get caught up in the process of another human unravelling. Once we might have done so. At least we might have seemed reluctant to be part of the cavalcade. Now we are integral to it. Is that where we want to be?

Ros Coward is a professor of journalism at Roehampton University

Ant McPartlin is a celebrity, but do we forget he’s a human being? | Ros Coward

Ant McPartlin’s celebrity has been built on a perennially boyish, cheeky-chappy image, always at ease in front of the camera. The image he presented following his sentencing for drink-driving, after a collision in which other people were injured, could not have been more different. Gaunt face, furrowed brow, and dark bags under worried eyes, he looked in no fit state to have cameras shoved in his face. But a press that has built him up is not going to miss the opportunity for close-up scrutiny of his downfall to addiction and depression. His haggard face covered front pages: “Ant’s court shame”, “Ant’s guilt”, “Shamefaced!” chorused the captions. The Daily Mail had the nastiest dig at its former darling: “A picture of self-pity, drink drive Ant fined £86,000 (and that’s just 4 days’ wages).”

These same papers have recently reported, with approval, attempts to improve the treatment of mental health, including Theresa May’s rhetorical promise to transform how the issue is dealt with. But when it comes to their relationship with celebrities, self-awareness and responsible reporting of psychological distress is too much to expect.

Celebrities are the lifeblood of much of our popular journalism, and ambivalence is the name of the game. Personalities are elevated through endless attention to every detail of their lives – look no further than the current obsession with Meghan Markle’s every outfit, her dogs’ names and her estranged relatives.

But this is envious attention, waiting – even hoping – for the celebrity to crash and suffer, or to behave in ways that will justify spiteful commentary. When celebrities really come down to earth, or even die, there is a ghoulish interest in the details of their suffering, especially if there’s a suggestion that they were, after all, not happy with their previously enviable celebrity lives. The bear-baiting treatment of Amy Winehouse and Frank Bruno were examples of this. Dale Winton’s death this week offers the opportunity for a sort of voyeuristic interest in the details of his depression.

Ant, particularly as part of Ant and Dec, plays an interesting role in the machinery of British celebrity. The duo’s core television work has been precisely in the area of celebrity making and breaking. They are the front team for Britain’s Got Talent, a show where celebrities are discovered among “ordinary” people and become fodder for the popular press. The pair’s sensitive handling of Susan Boyle after her first performance turned her into a megastar. But they also front I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here, where famous people are tested and hopefully – from the perspective of “good” television – broken. Created or destroyed, all of it feeds the needs of the celebrity media conveyor belt.

Ant McPartlin with Declan Donnelly in Byker Grove.


Ant McPartlin (right) with Declan Donnelly in Byker Grove. Photograph: BBC

Ant and Dec are the innocent face of this celebrity supply machine. They are boyish and good natured, they put participants at ease and guide them through tantrums and disappointments. They have an unusually benign rapport with each other – most showbusiness couples have more edge. Away from the shows, their lives have, until now, been relatively blameless: they don’t behave badly; they take their mothers to the Palace for their gongs; and, phew, they have even married women just when the tabloids were beginning to wonder. Their brand of wholesomeness, playful entertainment and sympathetic rapport with participants is massively important for ITV. By appearing decent and deserving themselves, they make this kind of entertainment, even through its low points, seem acceptable: a quest for innocent celebrity fun.

In some respects, Ant and Dec really are deserving. They have certainly worked hard. Ant was brought up by a single mother in Newcastle, and first came to fame as a child actor in the TV series Byker Grove, which is where he met Declan Donnelly. They became friends and after a brief detour into pop, found TV presenting. They’ve lived their lives in the spotlight ever since. And while they now earn fabulous amounts, as the Mail was quick to remind us, their work is far from glamorous. They deal with the unedifying process of celebrity making and breaking from the inside.

On Britain’s Got Talent this means dealing with the casting of suitable subjects, and all the artificialities behind the scenes. On I’m a Celebrity, they hang around in sordid conditions outside a fake jungle, holding at bay teams from countries waiting to take over the set, and witnessing endless negotiations with the celebs.

This may be enough to drive anyone to drink or to something worse, which itself provides new script lines for a macabre and interactive public soap opera.

It’s more than just a powerful irony that McPartlin’s downfall played out this week in the media’s full glare. His clean personality has helped to mask the darker process of celebrification, and made the goal of fame seem unproblematic. His cheerfulness has hidden the downside of fame, the envious hostility it awakens. So perhaps it’s also poetic justice he finds himself mocked by a media that cares little for his distress. There’s an obligatory sequel to the celebrity narrative of “Build them up and knock them down”, an episode called “Let’s see if they can get up again”.

McPartlin’s tortured appearance suggests he knows the arc as well as the public. But what does our appetite for this recurring drama say about us? We could look away now and not allow ourselves to get caught up in the process of another human unravelling. Once we might have done so. At least we might have seemed reluctant to be part of the cavalcade. Now we are integral to it. Is that where we want to be?

Ros Coward is a professor of journalism at Roehampton University

Ant McPartlin is a celebrity, but do we forget he’s a human being? | Ros Coward

Ant McPartlin’s celebrity has been built on a perennially boyish, cheeky-chappy image, always at ease in front of the camera. The image he presented following his sentencing for drink-driving, after a collision in which other people were injured, could not have been more different. Gaunt face, furrowed brow, and dark bags under worried eyes, he looked in no fit state to have cameras shoved in his face. But a press that has built him up is not going to miss the opportunity for close-up scrutiny of his downfall to addiction and depression. His haggard face covered front pages: “Ant’s court shame”, “Ant’s guilt”, “Shamefaced!” chorused the captions. The Daily Mail had the nastiest dig at its former darling: “A picture of self-pity, drink drive Ant fined £86,000 (and that’s just 4 days’ wages).”

These same papers have recently reported, with approval, attempts to improve the treatment of mental health, including Theresa May’s rhetorical promise to transform how the issue is dealt with. But when it comes to their relationship with celebrities, self-awareness and responsible reporting of psychological distress is too much to expect.

Celebrities are the lifeblood of much of our popular journalism, and ambivalence is the name of the game. Personalities are elevated through endless attention to every detail of their lives – look no further than the current obsession with Meghan Markle’s every outfit, her dogs’ names and her estranged relatives.

But this is envious attention, waiting – even hoping – for the celebrity to crash and suffer, or to behave in ways that will justify spiteful commentary. When celebrities really come down to earth, or even die, there is a ghoulish interest in the details of their suffering, especially if there’s a suggestion that they were, after all, not happy with their previously enviable celebrity lives. The bear-baiting treatment of Amy Winehouse and Frank Bruno were examples of this. Dale Winton’s death this week offers the opportunity for a sort of voyeuristic interest in the details of his depression.

Ant, particularly as part of Ant and Dec, plays an interesting role in the machinery of British celebrity. The duo’s core television work has been precisely in the area of celebrity making and breaking. They are the front team for Britain’s Got Talent, a show where celebrities are discovered among “ordinary” people and become fodder for the popular press. The pair’s sensitive handling of Susan Boyle after her first performance turned her into a megastar. But they also front I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here, where famous people are tested and hopefully – from the perspective of “good” television – broken. Created or destroyed, all of it feeds the needs of the celebrity media conveyor belt.

Ant McPartlin with Declan Donnelly in Byker Grove.


Ant McPartlin (right) with Declan Donnelly in Byker Grove. Photograph: BBC

Ant and Dec are the innocent face of this celebrity supply machine. They are boyish and good natured, they put participants at ease and guide them through tantrums and disappointments. They have an unusually benign rapport with each other – most showbusiness couples have more edge. Away from the shows, their lives have, until now, been relatively blameless: they don’t behave badly; they take their mothers to the Palace for their gongs; and, phew, they have even married women just when the tabloids were beginning to wonder. Their brand of wholesomeness, playful entertainment and sympathetic rapport with participants is massively important for ITV. By appearing decent and deserving themselves, they make this kind of entertainment, even through its low points, seem acceptable: a quest for innocent celebrity fun.

In some respects, Ant and Dec really are deserving. They have certainly worked hard. Ant was brought up by a single mother in Newcastle, and first came to fame as a child actor in the TV series Byker Grove, which is where he met Declan Donnelly. They became friends and after a brief detour into pop, found TV presenting. They’ve lived their lives in the spotlight ever since. And while they now earn fabulous amounts, as the Mail was quick to remind us, their work is far from glamorous. They deal with the unedifying process of celebrity making and breaking from the inside.

On Britain’s Got Talent this means dealing with the casting of suitable subjects, and all the artificialities behind the scenes. On I’m a Celebrity, they hang around in sordid conditions outside a fake jungle, holding at bay teams from countries waiting to take over the set, and witnessing endless negotiations with the celebs.

This may be enough to drive anyone to drink or to something worse, which itself provides new script lines for a macabre and interactive public soap opera.

It’s more than just a powerful irony that McPartlin’s downfall played out this week in the media’s full glare. His clean personality has helped to mask the darker process of celebrification, and made the goal of fame seem unproblematic. His cheerfulness has hidden the downside of fame, the envious hostility it awakens. So perhaps it’s also poetic justice he finds himself mocked by a media that cares little for his distress. There’s an obligatory sequel to the celebrity narrative of “Build them up and knock them down”, an episode called “Let’s see if they can get up again”.

McPartlin’s tortured appearance suggests he knows the arc as well as the public. But what does our appetite for this recurring drama say about us? We could look away now and not allow ourselves to get caught up in the process of another human unravelling. Once we might have done so. At least we might have seemed reluctant to be part of the cavalcade. Now we are integral to it. Is that where we want to be?

Ros Coward is a professor of journalism at Roehampton University

Ant McPartlin is a celebrity, but do we forget he’s a human being? | Ros Coward

Ant McPartlin’s celebrity has been built on a perennially boyish, cheeky-chappy image, always at ease in front of the camera. The image he presented following his sentencing for drink-driving, after a collision in which other people were injured, could not have been more different. Gaunt face, furrowed brow, and dark bags under worried eyes, he looked in no fit state to have cameras shoved in his face. But a press that has built him up is not going to miss the opportunity for close-up scrutiny of his downfall to addiction and depression. His haggard face covered front pages: “Ant’s court shame”, “Ant’s guilt”, “Shamefaced!” chorused the captions. The Daily Mail had the nastiest dig at its former darling: “A picture of self-pity, drink drive Ant fined £86,000 (and that’s just 4 days’ wages).”

These same papers have recently reported, with approval, attempts to improve the treatment of mental health, including Theresa May’s rhetorical promise to transform how the issue is dealt with. But when it comes to their relationship with celebrities, self-awareness and responsible reporting of psychological distress is too much to expect.

Celebrities are the lifeblood of much of our popular journalism, and ambivalence is the name of the game. Personalities are elevated through endless attention to every detail of their lives – look no further than the current obsession with Meghan Markle’s every outfit, her dogs’ names and her estranged relatives.

But this is envious attention, waiting – even hoping – for the celebrity to crash and suffer, or to behave in ways that will justify spiteful commentary. When celebrities really come down to earth, or even die, there is a ghoulish interest in the details of their suffering, especially if there’s a suggestion that they were, after all, not happy with their previously enviable celebrity lives. The bear-baiting treatment of Amy Winehouse and Frank Bruno were examples of this. Dale Winton’s death this week offers the opportunity for a sort of voyeuristic interest in the details of his depression.

Ant, particularly as part of Ant and Dec, plays an interesting role in the machinery of British celebrity. The duo’s core television work has been precisely in the area of celebrity making and breaking. They are the front team for Britain’s Got Talent, a show where celebrities are discovered among “ordinary” people and become fodder for the popular press. The pair’s sensitive handling of Susan Boyle after her first performance turned her into a megastar. But they also front I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here, where famous people are tested and hopefully – from the perspective of “good” television – broken. Created or destroyed, all of it feeds the needs of the celebrity media conveyor belt.

Ant McPartlin with Declan Donnelly in Byker Grove.


Ant McPartlin (right) with Declan Donnelly in Byker Grove. Photograph: BBC

Ant and Dec are the innocent face of this celebrity supply machine. They are boyish and good natured, they put participants at ease and guide them through tantrums and disappointments. They have an unusually benign rapport with each other – most showbusiness couples have more edge. Away from the shows, their lives have, until now, been relatively blameless: they don’t behave badly; they take their mothers to the Palace for their gongs; and, phew, they have even married women just when the tabloids were beginning to wonder. Their brand of wholesomeness, playful entertainment and sympathetic rapport with participants is massively important for ITV. By appearing decent and deserving themselves, they make this kind of entertainment, even through its low points, seem acceptable: a quest for innocent celebrity fun.

In some respects, Ant and Dec really are deserving. They have certainly worked hard. Ant was brought up by a single mother in Newcastle, and first came to fame as a child actor in the TV series Byker Grove, which is where he met Declan Donnelly. They became friends and after a brief detour into pop, found TV presenting. They’ve lived their lives in the spotlight ever since. And while they now earn fabulous amounts, as the Mail was quick to remind us, their work is far from glamorous. They deal with the unedifying process of celebrity making and breaking from the inside.

On Britain’s Got Talent this means dealing with the casting of suitable subjects, and all the artificialities behind the scenes. On I’m a Celebrity, they hang around in sordid conditions outside a fake jungle, holding at bay teams from countries waiting to take over the set, and witnessing endless negotiations with the celebs.

This may be enough to drive anyone to drink or to something worse, which itself provides new script lines for a macabre and interactive public soap opera.

It’s more than just a powerful irony that McPartlin’s downfall played out this week in the media’s full glare. His clean personality has helped to mask the darker process of celebrification, and made the goal of fame seem unproblematic. His cheerfulness has hidden the downside of fame, the envious hostility it awakens. So perhaps it’s also poetic justice he finds himself mocked by a media that cares little for his distress. There’s an obligatory sequel to the celebrity narrative of “Build them up and knock them down”, an episode called “Let’s see if they can get up again”.

McPartlin’s tortured appearance suggests he knows the arc as well as the public. But what does our appetite for this recurring drama say about us? We could look away now and not allow ourselves to get caught up in the process of another human unravelling. Once we might have done so. At least we might have seemed reluctant to be part of the cavalcade. Now we are integral to it. Is that where we want to be?

Ros Coward is a professor of journalism at Roehampton University

Ant McPartlin is a celebrity, but do we forget he’s a human being? | Ros Coward

Ant McPartlin’s celebrity has been built on a perennially boyish, cheeky-chappy image, always at ease in front of the camera. The image he presented following his sentencing for drink-driving, after a collision in which other people were injured, could not have been more different. Gaunt face, furrowed brow, and dark bags under worried eyes, he looked in no fit state to have cameras shoved in his face. But a press that has built him up is not going to miss the opportunity for close-up scrutiny of his downfall to addiction and depression. His haggard face covered front pages: “Ant’s court shame”, “Ant’s guilt”, “Shamefaced!” chorused the captions. The Daily Mail had the nastiest dig at its former darling: “A picture of self-pity, drink drive Ant fined £86,000 (and that’s just 4 days’ wages).”

These same papers have recently reported, with approval, attempts to improve the treatment of mental health, including Theresa May’s rhetorical promise to transform how the issue is dealt with. But when it comes to their relationship with celebrities, self-awareness and responsible reporting of psychological distress is too much to expect.

Celebrities are the lifeblood of much of our popular journalism, and ambivalence is the name of the game. Personalities are elevated through endless attention to every detail of their lives – look no further than the current obsession with Meghan Markle’s every outfit, her dogs’ names and her estranged relatives.

But this is envious attention, waiting – even hoping – for the celebrity to crash and suffer, or to behave in ways that will justify spiteful commentary. When celebrities really come down to earth, or even die, there is a ghoulish interest in the details of their suffering, especially if there’s a suggestion that they were, after all, not happy with their previously enviable celebrity lives. The bear-baiting treatment of Amy Winehouse and Frank Bruno were examples of this. Dale Winton’s death this week offers the opportunity for a sort of voyeuristic interest in the details of his depression.

Ant, particularly as part of Ant and Dec, plays an interesting role in the machinery of British celebrity. The duo’s core television work has been precisely in the area of celebrity making and breaking. They are the front team for Britain’s Got Talent, a show where celebrities are discovered among “ordinary” people and become fodder for the popular press. The pair’s sensitive handling of Susan Boyle after her first performance turned her into a megastar. But they also front I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here, where famous people are tested and hopefully – from the perspective of “good” television – broken. Created or destroyed, all of it feeds the needs of the celebrity media conveyor belt.

Ant McPartlin with Declan Donnelly in Byker Grove.


Ant McPartlin (right) with Declan Donnelly in Byker Grove. Photograph: BBC

Ant and Dec are the innocent face of this celebrity supply machine. They are boyish and good natured, they put participants at ease and guide them through tantrums and disappointments. They have an unusually benign rapport with each other – most showbusiness couples have more edge. Away from the shows, their lives have, until now, been relatively blameless: they don’t behave badly; they take their mothers to the Palace for their gongs; and, phew, they have even married women just when the tabloids were beginning to wonder. Their brand of wholesomeness, playful entertainment and sympathetic rapport with participants is massively important for ITV. By appearing decent and deserving themselves, they make this kind of entertainment, even through its low points, seem acceptable: a quest for innocent celebrity fun.

In some respects, Ant and Dec really are deserving. They have certainly worked hard. Ant was brought up by a single mother in Newcastle, and first came to fame as a child actor in the TV series Byker Grove, which is where he met Declan Donnelly. They became friends and after a brief detour into pop, found TV presenting. They’ve lived their lives in the spotlight ever since. And while they now earn fabulous amounts, as the Mail was quick to remind us, their work is far from glamorous. They deal with the unedifying process of celebrity making and breaking from the inside.

On Britain’s Got Talent this means dealing with the casting of suitable subjects, and all the artificialities behind the scenes. On I’m a Celebrity, they hang around in sordid conditions outside a fake jungle, holding at bay teams from countries waiting to take over the set, and witnessing endless negotiations with the celebs.

This may be enough to drive anyone to drink or to something worse, which itself provides new script lines for a macabre and interactive public soap opera.

It’s more than just a powerful irony that McPartlin’s downfall played out this week in the media’s full glare. His clean personality has helped to mask the darker process of celebrification, and made the goal of fame seem unproblematic. His cheerfulness has hidden the downside of fame, the envious hostility it awakens. So perhaps it’s also poetic justice he finds himself mocked by a media that cares little for his distress. There’s an obligatory sequel to the celebrity narrative of “Build them up and knock them down”, an episode called “Let’s see if they can get up again”.

McPartlin’s tortured appearance suggests he knows the arc as well as the public. But what does our appetite for this recurring drama say about us? We could look away now and not allow ourselves to get caught up in the process of another human unravelling. Once we might have done so. At least we might have seemed reluctant to be part of the cavalcade. Now we are integral to it. Is that where we want to be?

Ros Coward is a professor of journalism at Roehampton University

‘Inadequate’ celebrity mental health clinic ordered to make improvements

A private mental healthcare clinic that treated celebrity patients such as Lily Allen, Johnny Depp and Amy Winehouse has been ordered to make improvements amid concerns for the safety of patients at risk of suicide or self-harm.

The Priory hospital, in Roehampton, south-west London, is occupying a Grade II-listed building and is known as Priory Healthcare group’s “first and most well-known hospital”.

The hospital is best known for treating celebrities, particularly for drug addiction, and has been described as the British equivalent of the Betty Ford Clinic in the US.

The list of well-known patients includes songwriter Pete Doherty, former footballer Paul Gascoigne and Lloyds Banking Group chief executive António Horta-Osório.

The Priory treats a wide range of mental health problems including depression, anxiety and addictions. Some of the facilities on offer to private patients include an on-site restaurant, a gym with a personal trainer and housekeeping for a number of the private en-suite rooms.

But the Care Quality Commission (CQC) gave the hospital a rating of “requires improvement” following an inspection. The regulator issued the provider with a warning notice after inspectors rated the hospital as “inadequate” for providing safe care.

But Priory Healthcare, which runs the hospital, said it was “disappointed” the regulator decided to re-inspect its facility in the middle of a £1.2m improvement programme.

The CQC argued that the hospital was not providing safe levels of staffing to meet the needs of their patients.

The inspection report reads: “There remained high vacancy rates for nurses across the hospital and particularly on the eating disorder service. This resulted in high use of bank and agency staff and there were also a significant number of shifts with below safe staffing levels.

“Records indicated that there were more incidents on shifts with insufficient staff on Priory Court, the eating disorders unit for children and adolescents. There had been 95 incidents on Priory Court in the six months prior to the inspection.

“Following the inspection the provider sent us revised figures indicating a higher level of staffing than indicated at the time of the inspection. We undertook enforcement action against the provider, serving a warning notice regarding staffing levels.”

The regulator launched a re-inspection of the premises in October last year after it highlighted concerns during a visit in March 2016.

It said that in addition to concerns about staffing levels, inspectors concluded that the hospital environment, particularly on the acute wards, remained unsafe for patients at risk of suicide or self-harm.

Inspectors rated the trust as “good” for being effective and caring but “requires improvement” on being responsive.

Dr Paul Lelliott, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector for mental health, said: “When we inspected the Priory Hospital in October 2016, we were very concerned about the safety of patients at risk of suicide or self-harm.

“The hospital must ensure it can meet the needs of patients they choose to admit whilst improvements to staffing and the environment take place.

“We did however find some improvements and noted that the provider had implemented a pre-admission risk assessment.

“The wards also provided a comprehensive range of psychological therapies, including dialectical behavioural therapy, mindfulness, and family therapy. Occupational therapists and dietitians facilitated activities and discussion groups.”

Commenting on the inspection, Dr Sylvia Tang, chief executive of Priory Healthcare, said: “Roehampton is a safe hospital providing high quality care and treatment and we remain fully committed to making improvements for the benefit of all of our patients.

“Our £1.2m improvement programme at Roehampton is being led by a new management team and includes trialling a state-of-the-art patient monitoring system.

“It is disappointing that we have been re-inspected part-way through this programme when there were works in progress which have now been completed.

“Similarly, we question CQC’s findings in relation to staffing: our rotas show that appropriate staff-patient ratios have been maintained and, over the last year, we have reduced the vacancy rate for nurses by more than 50%, despite a national shortage of nurses.”

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14.

What makes celebrity meltdowns entertainment instead of tragedy? | David Ferguson

When I was in my 20s, I remember my therapist patiently listening to me complain about how out-of-my-depth I often felt around other gay men. I was asking her why they always seemed so effortlessly aloof and cool, whereas I was – and to some extent, still am – a slobbering golden retriever of a person, quivering with eagerness to be your new best friend.

“You’ll waste a lot of time and spoil a lot of happiness comparing your insides to other people’s outsides,” she told me.

I think about this a lot when I see famous people – rock stars, celebrities, politicians – going into meltdown mode. Trainwreck TV is one of our culture’s most avid pleasures. In the words of Edina Monsoon from Absolutely Fabulous, “It’s the only blood sport they haven’t banned, darling.”

Right now, everyone is waiting to see what the next eruption from Kanye West will be now that he’s out of the hospital after months – some would say years – of erratic behavior, bizarre concert spectacles and public meltdowns. It’s almost expected, since the Grammy nominations were announced this week and West was again shut out of the major categories.

A few years ago the spectacle du jour was Amanda Bynes, and before that, Britney Spears when she shaved her head and ended up under psychiatric care.

We’ve shaken our heads and tutted over the breakdowns of Mariah Carey and Courtney Love, Amy Winehouse and Gary Busey, Katt Williams and Dave Chappelle, Lindsay Lohan and Anna Nicole Smith – any celebrities who have had the misfortune to exhibit symptoms of mental illness while living in the public eye.

We take a certain sanctimonious pleasure in these people’s public disintegration and show shockingly little compassion, as though their wildly successful careers and personal fortunes make their pain more acceptable than that of mere mortals.

If a random woman we don’t know starts babbling nonsense and getting hysterical while we’re out shopping, it’s tragic. We avert our eyes. We tell our families when we get home how unsettling and upsetting it was. But when Spears does it, it’s a Rolling Stone cover story that we consume with the eagerness of kids tearing into a bag of candy.

It’s the same mentality that allows a racist troll like Milo Yiannopoulos to airily wave away the steaming, reeking mountain of harassment his followers and supporters firehosed at Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones, mostly on Twitter. Leslie Jones is a rich and famous actress; who cares if people say nasty things about her on the internet?

At what point do we stop valuing celebrities’ humanity?

Is it an income-level thing? Kanye West has got a lot of money. He’s one of the most well-known performers on the planet who isn’t Beyoncé or Beyoncé-adjacent. He has broken paradigms and yes, over-extended his brand, as it were, in a couple of areas, but he’s also a creative young person with a young family under tremendous pressure who lost his beloved mother nine years ago.

He has written openly about his love for liquor, cocaine and other intoxicants. It does not take a tremendous amount of imagination to piece together what may have happened here to a stressed-out artist in pain.

Let’s pretend for a moment that it isn’t Kanye West, but Keith West, who you knew in college who works for a life insurance company now. What if his mother died in surgery and he began a multi-year downward spiral?

Would you be gawking if Keith got placed on involuntary hold in a psychiatric unit? Would you be sharing links about Keith on Twitter and Facebook and marveling that someone could become such a mess?

Kanye West may be, as President Obama once said, “a jackass” from time to time. But he’s also still a person.

Millions of dollars in the bank doesn’t mean anything when you want your mom and she’s gone, I suspect, any more than the significantly less princely sum in my own checking account does. You can’t buy five more minutes to be with your dead mom for any amount of money, large or small.

So, maybe the next time you start to click on that Perez Hilton link about whichever celebrity’s mind has most recently hit the big bug-zapper, take a second. Ask yourself how you’d feel if your life’s most humiliating, confused, disoriented moment was out there for public amusement.

If the person suffering at the other end of that hyperlink was Keith and not Kanye, would you still click it?

Britain’s Youngest Carers, Channel 4, assessment: ‘more than a celebrity endorsement’

When six-12 months-old Ty-Reese handed his mom a glass of water for her to take her drugs, she stated: “Thank you, little one.” He replied: “You’re welcome, Mummy.” After this formal small exchange, he went into the kitchen to load the washing machine, for he had already spent 18 months of his lifestyle helping to be a carer for his mom, who has kidney difficulties and arthritis, and is fitted with a pacemaker.

Officially there are 200,000 kids who are classified as “carers”, based mostly on the 2011 census, but Professor Saul Becker, a Nottingham sociologist, informed the camera that a more correct variety is nearer 700,000, 1 in twelve of all young children in the nation. He was asked about this by Oritsé Williams, very best recognized as a member of the former boy-band JLS. The reason he was presenting Britain’s Youngest Carers (Channel four) is that, from the age of 12, he cared for his own mom, Sonia, who has multiple sclerosis.

Williams wisely explained, “I’m usually suspicious of celebrity involvement” in such complex problems, and he had no illusion that a magic wand could be waved to save schoolchildren investing 40 hours or far more caring for a mother or father on best of their scientific studies. He offered a literal shoulder to cry on for much more than a single youngster in this brief documentary, and repeated that one of the most troubling troubles is their obtaining no one to share their emotions with. Kids are even bullied at college if they reveal their parents’ dependence.

A single, Josh, aged 13, helps his mom and sister seem soon after his terminally ill father. A serious youth, he also goes to Air Cadets, which he finds “takes your thoughts off it” but he has told no one there of his dedication at property. “He has to gradually watch his father die,” Williams commented, “something which no 1 of any age should have to do, and not at 13.” That sounds a sympathetic factor to say, but it can not be real. Everyone has to see their dad and mom die, slowly or quickly, unless they die first. Josh must tread a challenging street, and 1 perhaps unnecessarily lonely, but, for all his hidden anguish, he would seem to be doing it bravely. What’s the substitute?

One particular substitute is the chance that minor Ty-Reese’s mom fears: that, now he has a social worker allotted to him, he will, when she turns into even significantly less in a position to look after herself, be “taken into care”. That, in our day, is a prospect as chilling as the workhouse after was.