The Child Star Jinx, Channel 4

by | Jul 9, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

With alcoholism, eating disorders, drug addiction and even death as subject matter, this was the ultimate take on the price of (early) fame.

What to say if you didn’t like it

The Osmonds never had these problems.

What was good about it?

* Ann Bryson’s irreverent narration which, quite rightly, made fun of the subjects for most of the programme.

• At the same time, the show wasn’t afraid to shift its tone when some of the stories ended tragically (see River Phoenix and Dana Plato).

• The appearance of Corey Feldman, in his own words the “trendsetter” of messed-up child stars. Looking just as great as he did in the 80s, his tales of crime and teenage rebellion made us want to dig out our copies of The Goonies and Stand By Me straight away.

• Gary Coleman’s rather realistic admission that “We’re not all Wesley Snipes”

• Drew Barrymore. Her story is still shocking 20 years on and undisputed proof that the actress is a true Hollywood survivor. Partying in debauched nightclub Studio 54 aged 9, she entered rehab at 13 after heavy alcohol and substance abuse. Her famous family were also impressively chaotic, with thespian grandfather John allegedly throwing up in between film scenes due to excessive drinking.

• Shake Your Love by Debbie Gibson.

• Refreshingly, there weren’t too many out-of-place or irritating talking heads contributing, although we’re not sure why Jackie Clunes was there.

• The car crash that was the cast of Diff’rent Strokes. Three lives destroyed by financial breakdown, assault and suicide, their tales are enough to put off even the most fervent parent intent on stardom for their offspring.

What was bad about it?

• Antiques expert and now transsexual James/Lauren Harries. For goodness sake, THOSE EYES! Truly creepy both in child and adult form, Harries is the ultimate in child star horror. “I was insane at the age of 10”, Lauren rightly admitted after promising to change the world and become PM. Alas her delusions haven’t waned in 2005 – “I’m a big gay icon” she proclaimed.

• Gary Coleman in drag. Looked like Dolly Parton crossed with a miniature Divine.

• The unsettling and frequent appearance of Michael Jackson throughout.

• Although some of the tales contained an element of surprise, many were overly familiar and well known. As a result, the programme had no point of difference to previous shows such as After They Were Famous.

• The reminder that River Phoenix, easily contender to James Dean’s iconic throne, is gone.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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