Tag Archives: McPartlin

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

Ant McPartlin has no reason to apologise. His addiction is not his fault | Chris Owen

The weekend brought the news that Ant McPartlin, one half of Ant and Dec – PJ of PJ and Duncan fame – has checked into rehab for addiction problems with alcohol and drugs. He’s to spend a couple of months in recovery, where – hopefully – he’ll come out armed with the knowledge of how he became unwell in the first place, and how he can keep himself safe and sober in the long term.

He has got the initial major obstacle tackled, as he freely admitted: “The first step is to admit to yourself you need help.” However, what was most disheartening from the news stories that came out were the lines that followed: “I feel like I have let a lot of people down and for that I am truly sorry.”

As someone who has spent time in rehab for drink problems, I can tell you that it’s absolutely key to tackle this element of shame that is currently in his mind. Let me be clear: no more than someone suffering from cancer has he let anyone down. Not friends, family, colleagues, fans, or himself. He’s unwell, pure and simple, and he needs to go somewhere where he can get well – safely – and where he can learn the techniques he needs to remain safe and sober in the future.

When I first went into rehab, after nearly a decade of alcohol abuse, the first thing I was told in my first therapy session (of which McPartlin will have plenty), was: “You’re not a bad person trying to be good, you’re an ill person trying to get, and remain, well.” I can’t understate how important this was.

Addiction is often intertwined with mental health issues which stem heavily from self-esteem, so to be told you’re neither an idiot nor a terrible person, just an unwell one was an enormous weight to lift off my shoulders. It’s not anyone’s “fault” that addiction takes hold, but it’s way too often seen as self-inflicted, selfish, and wantonly self-destructive when this is far from the truth.

While I was still drinking I suffered from depression, anxiety and stress – all of which I tried to medicate through drinking every night until I fell asleep. Sadly, all this does is set you up for a day of panic, stress and anxiety the day after. Addiction is frequently cyclical, and we’ve seen from the developments with McPartlin that this seems to have happened here too – painkillers turned into dependency and drink started to play a part in numbing senses and pain. Such a process though isn’t his fault, and so he mustn’t think he’s let anyone down in developing an addiction.

Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly in I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!


‘Ant McPartlin is one of the most recognisable smiling faces of Saturday schedules.’ The duo in I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! Photograph: ITV UK

His very public announcement of his issues is highly commendable. There are regularly people who are prominent in the public eye going into rehab, but with McPartlin it seems different – he’s not an ageing rocker, nor a reality-TV show celebrity whose star is in the wane. He’s one of the most recognisable smiling faces of Saturday schedules – people my age grew up with him and Dec from their Byker Grove days, and the pair have become family favourites. As such, the awareness he’ll raise through going public can, you’d hope, only encourage others suffering to seek help. Knowing it’s not just you that is going through this is hugely important; knowing there are others who feel your pain and have the same trouble coping with life sometimes.

But he should not be apologising to anyone, nor saying he’s let them down. If we continue to treat addiction as something self-inflicted then other people still suffering might not ask for help – they’ll just keep hiding, with the shame that keeps them drinking, taking drugs, gambling, or whatever their vice might be, still firmly in control of them.

Relinquishing this control is not a simple, straightforward affair – as rehab will show McPartlin. I’ve been sober seven and a half years now, but I still have to be as careful as the first day I came out from rehab, I can’t let my guard slip. I also need to keep an eye on when the mental health problems and the shame might be creeping back – and then use the techniques I learned in rehab to stop them spiralling.

I still wonder, however, whether I’d have asked for help sooner if I knew it was OK to be unwell, and being an addict didn’t make me a bad person. Hopefully McPartlin can address similar demons too, but the public, media and those around him need to help remove the blame and shame mentality, and enable more people to seek help sooner.

Ant McPartlin speaks out about his depression and addiction

Ant McPartlin has said he feels he has let people down as he reportedly enters rehab following a battle with depression, alcohol and substance abuse.

The TV presenter, one half of the duo Ant and Dec, said he wanted to speak out about his issues in order to help others.

McPartlin, 41, told The Sun on Sunday: “I feel like I have let a lot of people down and for that I am truly sorry. I want to thank my wife, family and closest friends for helping me through this really difficult time.

“I’ve spoken out because I think it’s important that people ask for help if they’re going through a rough time and get the proper treatment to help their recovery.”

McPartlin is believed to have checked into a rehabilitation facility, where he will remain for up to two months for treatment for issues the paper reported as having stemmed from failed knee surgery two years ago.

McPartlin is said to have started taking prescription drugs to cope with the pain. An unnamed source said that alcohol had also become a cause for concern among the presenters’ friends.

His busy work schedule, in which he and Declan Donnelly front ITV programmes such as I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! and Britain’s Got Talent for a large part of the year, has been an additional factor to McPartlin’s battle with anxiety.

Several stars have commended McPartlin for speaking out about his personal issues.

The Apprentice presenter, Alan Sugar, wrote on Twitter:

Lord Sugar (@Lord_Sugar)

Very brave Ant to go public. This is the first stage of the road to recovery. All the best Ant it, will all be sorted for sure @antanddec https://t.co/lDcg5SjttD

June 18, 2017

Kelly Holmes said: “As I say at every speech I do, we are all human! Best wishes to Ant antanddec You will come back stronger,your fans love you #itsgoodtotalk.”

McPartlin and Donnelly forged their professional partnership after starring in the children’s drama series Byker Grove in the 1990s.

They went on to enjoy a music career under the names of their characters PJ & Duncan, releasing songs such as Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble and Shout.

After several years presenting a range of programmes, they landed a job hosting the Saturday morning ITV children’s programmes SMTV Live and CD:UK from 1998 until 2001.

Jobs on the entertainment shows Pop Idol and Friends Like These launched their primetime career in the early 2000s, and they are now best-known for their stints on I’m A Celebrity, Britain’s Got Talent and their own entertainment show, Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

The pair have won the TV presenter award at the National Television Awards for 16 consecutive years, and last year they were awarded OBEs in the Queen’s birthday honours for their services to broadcasting and entertainment.

McPartlin is married to his long-time partner Lisa Armstrong.