Wednesday, 14 November 2007

The TV Times

A Cut Below

Hair is amazing. It keeps your head warm. It stops your ears looking massive. It prevents people calling you names like ‘baldy’ or ‘shiny-fodded fuckface’ on the bus. All in all, it’s pretty bloody special.

Which makes it all the more surprising that anyone should go within a light year of the Celebrity Scissorhands (weeknights, BBC3) salon, let alone head there for a haircut. But wait - get the yellow buckets out - it’s all for Children In Need. These people are bleeding for Pudsey, so that makes everything okay.

In fairness, the most shocking thing about CSssh is that not all of the celebrities have been completely rubbish. Despite starting out like the proverbial bull in a china shop, miniscule popster Lil’ Chris - they use lights and mirrors to make him appear taller than Warwick Davies - has found that through a combination of charm, ambition and, y’know, actually trying, he is able to produce markedly unterrible results.

The same goes for Aled Haydn Jones, who can now place ‘learnt to cut hair quite well on BBC3’ alongside ‘publicly outed by Chris Moyles’ on his CV. Innocuous mini-slebs doing inoffensive haircuts does not, however, make good television.

Neither does George Lamb, a former music manager with such dazzling successes as the Audiobullys and a distinctly pre-fame Lily Allen to his name; a presenter barely able to contain his mocking scorn for the more adventurous celebs’ disastrous attempts at shear-wielding. George, here’s a tip: don’t praise someone’s new do to the skies before thanking them for being ‘a good sport’. It comes across as insincere.

The real story here though is the blossoming romance between two of the show’s stars. From frosty but mutually-respectful beginnings, these two have developed a beautiful friendship, based on flirtatious disses and get-it-over-with playfighting, which must surely culminate in them following Chantelle and Preston up the aisle (and then down to the divorce courts) as the next reality celeb pairing. I’m talking, of course, about Lee and Steve.

And what a pair they are. Assistant Dodderer Steve ‘Increasingly’ Strange (who would have to change his surname to ‘Fuckingstupid’ were his creations to live up to it) stumbles around the salon offering ’direction’ to his fellow contestants, which varies from “let’s shave the back off”, to “let’s shave the side off”, all the way through to, “let’s shave it all off”.

The presumably self-styled old romantic started the show with gusto, gleefully hacking away at hair like a drunk gardener going at a hedge, but a crisis of confidence, brought on by a bout of “seriously runny eyes”, saw his creative pipe trickle dry. One eager (read: woefully misadvised) patron sought Steve out for a ‘creative cut’, only to be sent away with a boring biddy bob. He didn’t even clipper her neck. The disappointment of it all, not to mention the resultant self-doubt, saw him hide in a cupboard, shaking, for the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, outside Steve’s cupboard of despair, ‘Hairdresser to the Stars’ Lee Stafford - a proud graduate of the David E. Cocksure School Of Strutting - prowls the salon like an inordinately smug panther, offering nothing more helpful than a sly smirk every time the celebrities fuck things up.

Luckily, this isn’t often, because Lee is a good and thorough teacher. Except, wait, he isn’t. He speeds through demonstrations with all the usefulness of Gordon Ramsay explaining the Theory of Relativity (“Light. Speed. Space. Bends. Relativity - Done”.), leaving the contestants entirely nonplussed about what it is they are supposed to do.

And that is where the TV Gold lies: clueless people attempting to do things they are totally unqualified to do. On Hell’s Kitchen, it’s cooking. On Big Brother, it’s having a grown-up conversation. Here, it is cutting hair. I hope, if there is to be a winner, that it is Lil’ Chris. But most of all, I hope that Lee and Steve get married, and adopt millions of hairy children to practise hairdressing on. That would be brilliant.

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