Michael Parkinson’s golden age of genuine celebrity is, alas, long gone, replaced for good by an unhealthy obsession with talentless and transient D-listers
Thursday July 5, 2007
Draw the curtains, don the black outfit and organise the wake because the news in the papers is that Chantelle and Preston have separated. Two more Zzz list celebs have bitten the dust. Their 15 minutes of fame has passed and hopefully their sorry mugshots will no longer grace the newsstands.
The timing seemed apt as I ventured out into the then drizzly night to attend Jessica Callan’s book launch. Jess, an original member of the Mirror’s infamous 3am trio, has written her Pepysish chronicles of the past few years in celebland.
Her father, Paul Callan, one of the old-school diarists of the 70s, interviewed scores of stars, the true legends of UK and US film business, society, sporting and literary worlds – as did Michael Parkinson on his BBC chatshow. They were given access and were happy to report on the real glitz and glamour, the real stars of a world that now seems long forgotten. These names rarely made the news pages.
In contrast, we are now firmly ensconced in a fame index world, where low rent nobodies can rocket into celebrity and then fizzle out a few months later. We’ve all been diddled out of the three-ring circus and been given the freak show instead.
And just as this dystopian world takes a total hold, we come to terms with the idea that Parky has decided to retire from chatshow hosting. But it’s no use harping back wistfully to the old days because they are as dead as a silent movie. There’s no reverence for those icons any longer because a new breed has arisen without the talent or the staying power but with an astounding ability to make mega bucks during their 15 minutes of fame.
Preston and Chantelle sold the rights to their wedding. Chantelle also cashed in with an autobiography; her E4 TV show, Living the Dream and modelling deals. And Celebrity Big Brother boosted the flagging fortunes of Preston’s band, The Ordinary Boys.
Jessica Callan’s book sums it all up. It’s the golden age v the new age. It’s all about marketing a commodity to make the most money out of what little talent you have. You can get the red carpet without going on the journey to get there.
There is now a certain formula for fame. This phenomenon is here to stay, so we may as well wave goodbye to Parky, jump on this bandwagon and ride it all the way to the bank.