Monday, September 25, 2006

10 Years Older.

An interesting evening was spent last night at a private view, featuring a pilot for a new television series called ’10 Years Older.’
This has blatantly been developed ‘on the back’ of a previously successful television series called ’10 Years Younger’ presented by ‘style guru’ Nicky Hambleton-Jones.

The premise of the original series was to present a prematurely aged member of the public to a high street audience, who would guess at his or her age. This was followed by an intense schedule of treatments on this unfortunate person, including laser eye surgery, facial skin removal, botox injections, hair dyeing, facial hair removal, a new wardrobe of clothes and even plastic surgery!

They were then re-presented back on the streets for a further ‘guess-my-age’ session by members of the public, where undoubtedly their mean age would now be ’10 Years Younger’ and inevitably was.

The idea for the new series ’10 Years Older’ came from a 22 year old girl, who had written in to Channel 4 on a separate matter, complaining that she was always challenged when trying to get served alcohol at a public house.
Her problem is that she looks much younger than her years and wished that she could look ‘more mature.’

She was chosen as the ‘guinea pig’ for the pilot episode of ‘10 Years Older.’

I must say that she is bloody gorgeous, with the most perfect skin and a beautiful smile. A real natural beauty. Or at least she was.

On the first part of the programme, the public guessed her age at a mean 16 years old. One person actually thought she was just 14! The highest guess was all of 19.

The next part of the programme, which formed the bulk, was quite shocking.
I don’t believe I am doing a disservice here in revealing the content of the pilot, as it is unlikely to be commissioned by Channel 4.
(I have since heard that it may be taken up by one of the lesser satellite channels but in a heavily edited format.)

We found out that our young ‘guinea pig’ who I will call Claire, was regularly challenged in the pub when she tried to get served alcohol. She doesn’t actually drink alcohol herself, and on these occasions the alcoholic drinks were for her friends.

This was where our presenter, Paul Reynard-Grosse, concentrated his efforts initially.
He explained to young Claire the wonderfully beneficial benefits of alcohol in ‘maturing’ the interior as well as, crucially, the exterior features of one’s body.
Lager, in half pint measures over the first and second days, followed by pint measures on subsequent days, were consumed by Claire with much crying and no small amount of accompanying vomiting. But one could see the ‘beneficial’ effects quite noticeably on her features. Her complexion became flat and colourless and her hair, dank and lifeless. Even her previously sparkling eyes had lost most of their sparkle. Fantastic stuff!!

When she had reached a stage of being able to consume four pints every single day, Paul then added in another element to the recipe.

I liken Paul to an orchestral conductor, whereby the symphonic harmonies are built up slowly, instrument by instrument. In this case the first ‘instrument’ was the 'alcohol' followed then by the ‘crisps’ and then the ‘peanuts.’

Paul is a fantastic presenter and I’m sure he will ‘rise up’ in some other reality programme in the very near future. He has those necessary qualities of quiet manipulation and feigned sincerity that are a ‘must’ for any modern day presenter to acquire if they are to progress in this great industry of ours. Just look at Davina MacColl.

Claire, god bless her, actually gorged herself on multiple packets of hula-hoops and dry roasted peanuts with little complaint, as they naturally form a perfect accompaniment to beer or lager.

But there is one other ‘perfect accompaniment’ to the delights of alcohol that Paul kept up his sleeve until he deemed Claire was ready to accept it.

He needn’t have worried, she took to cigarettes like a duck to water.

Initially she was getting through maybe twenty Silk Cut Ultras a day, but soon moved up to Marlboro Lights and then amazingly Marlboro full strength or Camels, hitting a record thirty-three smoked in just one day. Pretty good going for someone who only started smoking just over two weeks ago.

But don’t think they spent all their time filming in public houses. They also visited MacDonalds and Burger King.
This should have been the easy part, but it just so turned out that Claire was also a vegetarian. This shouldn’t have been a problem as both burger outlets also stock a small number of vegetarian options; lettuce leaves and such. But Paul was having none of it! He insisted that she eat the ‘full monty’ – double cheeseburger twice with accompanying fries.

She couldn’t manage it and the wails of protest and tears were scaring off the regular punters. They were eventually ordered out of MacDonalds. The very same thing happened in Burger King.
So off they went, back to the pub to ‘soften’ her up with alcohol, prior to a further visit to each burger outlet.
Eventually it worked. (Now this was the bit that I found distasteful.)
Claire had consumed so much alcohol (you have to understand that she’d moved onto vodka and red bull with the occasional dark rum and coke) that she had collapsed in a heap, face down in her own vomit.
She was cleaned up somewhat before they all returned to MacDonalds.
Paul sat her down – he sat close by her side and the assistant cameraman sat on her other side. (to stop her falling over you see) This didn’t stop her falling forwards however, face down on the table, so they had someone called George kneel behind her pulling on her shirt, but out of view of the camera mostly.
This had the desired effect and she was then force fed the required items, in both burger outlets (some advertising tie up or agreement here I imagine) before they decanted back to the public house for further refreshment.
I’m sure you’re getting the picture by now. Very much more of the same.

Claire had been a regular gym member and visited usually three or four times a week. This was of course banned during the filming period. Claire eventually put on almost two stone in weight over the six weeks they took to film the pilot. I have to say it didn't sit well on her, but I suppose this could be considered a success.

They also tried her on some mild substance abuse, but her personality changed so drastically that they had to stop it. She couldn’t stop saying the word ‘c**t’ – which was bleeped out of course. I understand that there were so many instances of it, that it sounded like they’d been faked – a bit like on that Jeremy Beadle programme from a few years back. (funnily enough, Jeremy was in the invited audience, two rows in front of me)

The pilot show was an hour long, with an agreement that it would be cut down to half an hour in its regular format.
Anyway, when they eventually got back out onto the streets to ask the general public what they thought Claire’s age was, the end result was a foregone conclusion.
I have to add that the desired ageing of Claire was not all down to Paul and his team’s clever tactics. Near the end of the six weeks of filming, Claire was rushed to hospital with alcohol poisoning and had to have emergency surgery. She had only been out of hospital two days when she was ‘persuaded’ by Paul to complete the programme with the ‘guess my age’ spot in some anonymous shopping centre resembling Milton Keynes. (they all resemble Milton Keynes of course, as it was the model for all subsequent shopping centres built throughout the UK. But that’s another matter).

The result of her operation had a two fold effect. Yes, she’d managed to lose almost a stone of the weight she had put on over the filming period. But crucially, it had aged her features by at least another four years I would guess.
So when the mean age was revealed, as Paul and Claire drank coffee in some chic coffee bar, I felt a little cheated.
The mean age was revealed as 36 years. Though, as I said, I personally believe the hospitalisation and operation had added four years to Claire’s age. Therefore, if she hadn’t been hospitalised and we had been judging it purely on the work of Paul and his team, then the mean age would have been just 32 years – co-incidently ’10 Years Older’ than her real age.
Strange the way these things work out.

The end result is that Claire no longer has to worry about being challenged in public houses.
In the two months since the end of filming, she has managed to retain her looks and figure and, in fact, it could be argued that she has aged even more since then.

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