The Death of Celebrity, Channel 4

by | Sep 11, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

The arch-duke of devilry Piers Morgan impishly questions the authenticity of a superficial world he helped shape.

What to say if you didn’t like it

Piers Morgan gazes into a mirror which reflects the true ugliness of his corrupted soul and absolves himself of all blame for the all the unsightly celebrity blemishes he nurtured.

What was good about it?

• Anne Robinson chiding Piers for his hypocrisy.

• Seth Lakeman’s violin performance as an example of somebody truly talented. Not so clever was Piers’ smug remark that “Jade Goody couldn’t do that”; and Thom Yorke couldn’t score an overhead kick in the FA Cup final, but that doesn’t devalue his talent.

• Jessica Alba’s palpable discomfort, recoiling like a teenager confronted by a drunken lout, when Piers asked her if she knew who BB6’s Maxwell and Saskia were at a film premiere.

• Jools Holland’s passionate belief that any fame from music should stem first from a love of music, rather than a primary desire to be famous.

• As more and more minor, not trash, celebrities (or their acolytes) got more and more vexed at the level of attention those whom Piers was conducting this diatribe against the more we valued those ephemeral irritants. The genuinely talented such as Michael Gambon and Jo Brand couldn’t give a stuff for how often they are in Heat, Closer or Sunday, it is those who have talent in those arenas upon which the trash celebrities encroach who feel the most threatened as the trash celebrities expose how little talent is

required to ascend to their level of fame, thus exposing them as frauds.

• Paul Danan was captioned as “potential movie star”.

• Michael Gambon’s exasperation at reality TV star Donatella’s acting. “The girl is just reading a script and looking at the camera.”

What was bad about it?

• Piers Morgan was a poor choice as presenter as the audience were supposed to swallow that since his divorce from the tabloid media, he has become a penitent saint

determined to rid the land of superficial celebrity. It was like watching Tomas De Torquemada present a solemn, sympathetic documentary about the innocent women executed during the Salem Witch Trials.

• Piers deriding the doggerel prose of Abi Titmuss’s “novel” (think erotica written by dinosaurs with writers’ block and an imagination pilfered from cracked boulder). Yes it was dreadfully written, but Piers has no mandate to castigate her given that the

egregious grammar he regularly approved as editor of both the News of the World and the Daily Mirror was little better.

• Piers bemoaning the lack of a contemporary celebrity gods like “Frank Sinatra”, while the mellifluous No Surprises by Radiohead played in the background. There are your modern day icons, Mr Morgan. And by the way, Frank Sinatra was little more than a Michelle McManus of 50s America, so please don’t cultivate the very bacteria you’re trying to cleanse.

• Martine McCutcheon, who has benefited from tabloid exposure in the past, demanding “we want real celebrity back”.

• Piers’ assertion that “the day Calum Best failed to spell ‘celebrities’ was the day celebrity died”. Completely wrong, as to award the deed such momentous significance would to also award the deeds of Calum Best some relevance, when he couldn’t be less famous if he had been buried in an unmarked grave.

• The Most Pointless Celebrity chart which ranked David Beckham at number two and Tony Blair at number six, both of whom are the very antithesis of those Piers

was vilifying.

• Snotty celebrity columnist Victoria Newton pontificating that “fake” celebrities “shouldn’t be allowed into any celebrity party” when those whom she perhaps favours entry are only negligibly more talented than those whom she despises as outcasts.

After all, the various breeds of vermin share 98 per cent of all their genes.

• Jade Goody, the human death rattle.

• Piers asking Anne Robinson if she’d be annoyed if Jade Goody got a better table than her at The Ivy. Ranking your fame by the table you can snare at an overrated London restaurant is like judging your sexual attraction by the number of prostitutes you’ve slept with.

• Maxwell and Saskia from BB6; his face resembling a hollow, worm-riddled lifeboat attached by thinning ropes to the cruise liner of celebrity, while a fleshy portcullis of vacuity drops down on hers each time she is called upon to express emotion.

• Dave Morgan, a man whose fleeting fame made a May Fly’s lifespan look near-immortal. (We’re not going to say who he is, see if you can remember. If you do know, you could win a prize of a lifetime’s unsubscription to every celebrity magazine on God’s


• The PR non-entity who claimed Prince Harry “could be in Oasis”. Despite their faults, Oasis were once responsible for some of the most vibrant music of the past decade, Prince Harry is responsible for being born into opulent, enduring wealth and owning a mind as intellectually capable as Noel Gallager’s


• The rather pointless talent contest between talentless celebrities.

• Two of those marked out by Piers as genuinely talented – Seth Lakeman and Katie Melua – undoubtedly have both benefited from their pulchritudinous looks, a staple

of superficial celebrities.

• Piers evidencing the death of celebrity through the presence of a blue, not red, carpet at a film premiere. The blind ritual of a “red carpet” is emblematic of the unthinking idolatry which has fostered the contagion of trash celebrity which had Piers railed against. The abolition of the “red carpet” is as much a sign of matters improving as the easing of a fever.

• The widespread ignorance that the early 21st century isn’t the first age to be inundated with worthless celebrities. Colin Jackson compared what he perceived as the talent vacuum of the early 21st century with Michelangelo and Beethoven, who have a couple of centuries between them. In the 19th century, both Dickens and Dostoyevsky would rage against populist authors of the time who outsold them; Orwell parodied

the dreadful culture of the late 40s in 1984 through the “prolefeed”, a collection of awful films etc which sedated the ambitions of the masses; while pop music has also been as savage, take Joy Division’s Novelty, the Smiths’ Paint A Vulgar Picture or Nirvana’s Radio Friendly Unit Shifter. The only common thread which runs through all these examples is that shallow culture which provoked their ire has long passed into

oblivion – just like Jade Goody will, just like Jordan will, just like Maxell Thingybob will, and just like Piers Morgan will.

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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