Did we like it?
Recognising that the vile Gest is a churning bag of fleshy absurdities and contradictions you could wash clothes in, there has been a contrived effort to make it appear that he is somehow in conflict with the production team. Yet such is the ham-fisted manner in which it is enacted, the whole charade appears utterly stage-managed.
What was good about it?
• This section is so clean of material a baby could eat its breakfast off it.
What was bad about it?
• The highpoint of the show is perhaps the theme tune that is a pseudo-cod-jazz lingering death which has the lyrical hook of “This guy is crazy”, and is determined to map out his iota of charisma by pushing his manufactured wackiness to the forefront.
• This was further shown when Gest proclaimed: “I am probably the vainest person you will ever meet.” And in doing so sought to transpose a negative trait into a positive one simply because he is the ultimate exemplar of such a sin.
• Gest’s dancing in the title sequence that would shame a victim of an electric shock.
• Mackenzie Crook’s narration in which he sounds as if it is being read while someone points a gun at his head.
• The effort to make Gest seem as grotesque as possible in order to make him interesting, whereas in reality he is an empty cardboard box used to transport the surplus cans of paint in a house move. Gest says of bodyguard Imad: “I have many friends you can call plebeian.” This is a conscious effort to make Gest sound like a snob, but at the same time making his pomposity attractive through its absolute ignorance of social etiquette in the same way as bigots often claim to be speaking out against an oppressed minority under the flag of attacking ‘political correctness’ as an infringement of free speech.
• David’s forced tantrum when one of the camera crew gets some mud on the floor of his hotel room. Whether or not this was a genuine incident is unclear, but it provided a chance for Gest to expose the puerility that made him so popular on I’m A Celebrity… with gleeful relish as he ranted at the hotel receptionist that he was “going to count to 20” and that he wanted someone up to his room before then.
• But just in case he came across as too repugnant he hoisted out the last refuge of the terminally despicably celebrity by brandishing evidence of his charity work, “I’m donating this Michael Jackson poster to charity; signed by him and me!” And this one act of ostensible selflessness is supposed to absolve all his arrogance, but such is the present environment for celebrities to cleanse their sins through doing things “all for charity” that within the next week should Phil Spector pledge $2m to build a new hospital in Los Angeles he’ll probably be let off a murder charge with a two-year conditional discharge and a round of suck-up chat shows.
• Matt Willis – from the top of the charts with Busted to David Gest’s stooge in less than two years. When he introduced Gest, who was himself on stage only to introduce pop stars who have faded even more than Willis, it reminded us of Will Carling introducing Mr Blobby at the start of the Mr Blobby video.
• It was noted that Gest has to have his hair styled each time he goes out, so why did it need a frantic dash across London by his hairdresser? Again so risibly bogus was the whole scenario it wouldn’t have surprised us if Gest was ranting into a dead phone while his hairdresser waited outside the hotel room.
• As Gest prepared to attend the London premiere of Dreamgirls with Tanya, a backing singer he had met at one of his events less than half his age, he said: “Age is just a number sign.” A sentiment shared by old men who have a date with an improbably attractive younger woman and are seeking reassurance and self-justification that they aren’t the proverbial ‘dirty old men’ and, to paraphrase Mrs Merton, that the first thing that attracted them to him wasn’t “the millionaire David Gest”.
• The conceit that somehow the production team are working against Gest, and that much of what is being filmed is against his wishes therefore providing a ‘truer’ portrait of this enervating egotist. This was seen when Gest tried to mount a horse and insisted that the cameraman point his camera elsewhere, only for him to surreptitiously focus on Gest as he stumbled from a stool in the process of the mount; when Gest was arranging with the production team how to film him greeting Beyonce at the Dreamgirls premiere so it didn’t make it seem as if was standing around like a celebrity outcast while she slowly sauntered up the red carpet; and the epilogue in which Mackenzie Crook dolefully reported that Gest and Tanya didn’t have a second date “but he wanted you to know that he did kiss her”.