Vanity Lair, Channel 4

by | Feb 3, 2008 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

A show that makes you despair for the human race because contestants are, mainly, a slice of the most abominable people on the planet and the producers are like middle-class Satans urging you to disgorge your simmering hatred over them. However, there was one hilarious moment.

What was good about it?

• Tony, an egg passed fit by Swedish eugenics professors and fertilised by a frozen sperm from late 18th century France dictator Robespierre, spent much of the episode sneering about how repulsed he was by “fat people” and ugly people. While his abhorrence was cynically exaggerated by the producers, his own arrogance ineradicably bled through.

• The first ‘experiment’ of the series concerned the ‘scientific beauty’ of each of the ‘beautiful’ housemates, which was achieved through the rudimentary hatchet of judging attractiveness by how symmetrical their faces are. After bleating for about an hour that he hated having to tie his hair back out of his face before the test, Tony was revealed to have the least symmetrical face in the house (and by association the ugliest) with a “masculine right side” and a “feminine female side”, which was true as this revealed that the two sides of his face spliced together made him look like the bastard offspring of David Coulthard and Virginia Woolf.

• And this brought about the collapse of his belief system of his divine right to be more beautiful than everybody else, so much so that the collapse was akin to Pope Benedict XI striding through the Pearly Gates to be confronted by the sight of God softly buggering the Archangel Gabriel with a box of opened Durex on a nearby table while they were joined in Holy Matrimony by a grinning Osama Bin Laden.

• His response was to first grip his eyes with his fists and weep, before staggering off to the toilet to be vomit in the fashion of a spoilt child who turns crimson when they run out of tears to cry.

What was bad about it?

• Presenter Alexa Chung seems to treat each minor event that happens in the house with the same ominous portent as the manifestation of one of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, and seems genuinely astonished when the housemates don’t regard them with the same horror. And she communicates in such a truncated hovel of stock replicated phrases (“You must be a bit gutted?” “How are you feeling, Thomas?”) that she’s only distinguishable from a press-on T-shirt transfer on to the TV screen by the fact her hemline seems to recede a few more inches with each new appearance.

• As first evictee Steph (one of the three relatively sane contestants) was evicted, Chung demanded that she bitch about translucent Thomas who caused her expulsion from the show. “Don’t you hate him?” she insisted. “I’d be hating him all over!”

• Vanity Lair is just another notch on the bedpost of Hate TV, programmes that don’t invite you to share in the wonder of existence (see Life In Cold Blood) but attempt to boil the blood through the TV screen. Perhaps we would have loathed Vanity Lair even more if we weren’t so battle-hardened in the field of Hate TV, but we found it difficult to gather up even more than an atrophied antipathy towards the worst of the bunch, Tony, even though he is an utterly appalling person.

• Scott, who is a model and a Buddhist, a faith which the stupid callously appropriate as a form of mental nappy as they are incapable of sorting out their own troubles and so senselessly cerebrally urinate all over the tenets of their new belief in the hope that their problems will magically sort themselves out.

• The depressing philosophy of Kellie, who aspired to become one of the ten housemates. When asked would she be rather poor and beautiful or ugly and rich she gushed: “Ugly and rich as I could afford surgery and look better.” Kellie is 22 years old.

• Every single word that passed the lips of the housemate was lifeless, and rather like watching an endless funeral procession of cold, dead cadavers troop past. If an emotion happened to trespass into the unspoilt Vanity Lair the emotionally-phobic inhabitants would make sure it suffered the same fate as the unfortunate French monkey washed ashore at Hartlepool in the era of the Napoleonic Wars.

• “Kellie is really sweet,” cooed Larissa, who looks a termite mound lump of encrusted fake tan with eye cavities formed by someone spitting on her. The word “sweet” in the 21st century means “I’m going to pay this person a light and meaningless platitude so that when I swing my verbal haymaker in about ten seconds’ time it’s going to seem as if I’ve carefully considered her as a person rather than simply vilifying her out of my own wrathful spite.” The expelled Kellie reflected: “At the end of the day, they’re playing a game. But what goes around comes around.” It reaches such a nadir of articulacy that it resembles debate in the Houses of Parliament conducted by slugs communicating through the stench of their sticky trails.

• Thomas said: “I’ve got to be honest…” Nick fawned: “I really like Steph; cracking girl!” Casey sneered: “Dja know whatta mean?”

• The way in which an ‘experiment’ is included each week to award the show something beyond yet another crippled reality show with a lame twist in a vain effort to distinguish it from the thousands of other reality shows.

• As mentioned above, the experiment dealt with the notion that a symmetrical face equals beauty but we were given no insights into why this was the case and if symmetry in the nose adjusted perceptions more than the eyes. While the housemates were undergoing their assessments we instead learned that Tony would rather lose his legs than his hair, which must be a great comfort to children maimed by landmines but a bane for Bruce Forsyth.

• But what was the point in wasting time carrying out pointless experiments on such pointless people. Scott actually said the following words: “The only symmetrical person on history was Cleopatra.” We’re not sure who has made the independent substantiation of this through a meticulous examination of the photographic evidence, but we’re sure he’s as reliable as the Daily Mirror experts who verified the pictures in the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners by British troops.

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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