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Paper Monitor

10:11 UK time, Wednesday, 3 November 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"The prisoners' pin-up" - gosh, which lovely lass could this headline possibly be referring to?

Charlotte Church in the Daily Mail, showing off her reupholstered figure (she's gained a stone to get back the curves lost her recent weight loss)? Kelly Brook in, oh, any of the red tops, any day? Let's try a curveball - The Apprentice's Stella in the Sun, compared to an "Amsterdam hooker" by the blessed Nick Hewer in tonight's task?

Nope. It's Ann Widdecombe. So called in the Independent. The In-de-pend-ent. Quite a mental image, you'll agree.

Ann Widdecombe and Anton du Beke



She is, as noted by the Guardian on Tuesday, a well upholstered type, although not in the mould of Church or Brook:

"She cuts an extraordinary figure - short, slim, but almost capsized by a colossal bosom that she refers to as 'my upper circumference'"...


So what is the Indy on about? It's a Matthew Norman thinkpiece on "Miss Strangelove... How We Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Ann Widdecombe".

The headline calls Ms W the "prisoners' pin-up" but it gets even more extraordinary he compares the former prisons minister - who famously defended the practice of handcuffing female inmates during childbirth - to Liesl in The Sound of Music and Eliza "My Fair Lady" Doolittle, both of whom wanted to dance all night with their sweethearts. Why? If you need to ask, you are clearly an X Factor fan and not a viewer of Strictly Come Dancing.*

"Remember these filmic archetypes of dreamy ingenues on the cusp of erotic self-discovery and... alright, alright, maybe Widders doesn't leap balletically to mind. But the craving for affection is there in every coy glance at Du Beke, every coquettish exchange with Craig Revel Horwood."

Add to that the "echo of the little girl in the pink tutu dreaming of being Margot Fonteyn, but betrayed by genetics - and the cocktail is irresistible".

It certainly is. Among the other papers to latch onto her sudden transformation from Doris Karloff to national treasure is the Mail and the Daily Express, which throws what appears to be a random collection of words into her front page quote box:

  • "perils of drink"
  • "pigs as pets"
  • "Charleston"


Anyone who laid a bet back in her Home Office days that a future interview might run this gamut is truly in the money.

And finally, Poppy Watch notes that the Daily Telegraph's remembrance bloom - big and bold on Monday, absent on Tuesday - is back, albeit of somewhat diminished proportions to its start of the week incarnation.

A crisis of confidence at Telegraph Towers? Or did it simply lose the pin?

* Horror of horrors - there is apparently a third option in the Strictly or X Factor tribalism debate. Word has reached Paper Monitor that some people actually fall into neither camp - choosing either to watch, gasp, another channel or, can this be correct, to disregard TV altogether on a Saturday evening. Sounds spurious, but let's give this a whirl - is there anyone out there who isn't tuned to either BBC One or ITV1 between 6.15pm and 9.30pm on Saturdays? What do you do? Answers through the comments box below.


  • Comment number 1.

    We can't bear to watch either, truly rubbish television. So we listen to music, have a glass or two of something, and have a conversation!

  • Comment number 2.

    We find plenty to do on Saturday evenings. On *gasp* other channels, for example, there are re-runs of home building shows on More4, usually some decent music on BBC4, perhaps even good movie or two to be found. Failing that, we have things called "hobbies" which force us to get up and do creative things instead of vegging out on the sofa in front of rubbish television.

  • Comment number 3.

    If I were reliant on those two shows for something to do on a Saturday night, I think I would jump in the local canal.

    I can watch paint dry, clear out the cat litter tray, cut my toenails... Let's be honest, any of those would be more fun!

  • Comment number 4.

    I can't be bothered with either of these programs... Saturday evening means a good DVD, perhaps a glass of wine, and, if I'm feeling particularly rakish, a box of sweets.

  • Comment number 5.

    Claire, what a truly radical suggestion! Who 'has a conversation' these days?
    My husband and I, that's who. We've even been known to break out a pack of cards and play a game, too.

  • Comment number 6.

    How about a few early evening drinks in the village pub, for conversation, laughs, a catch up on local gossip, a chill out after a day of rushing about. Compare that to vegetating on the sofa staring a the box - no contest!

    (Incidentally, for those of us who don't watch either programme why does there seem to be incessant reporting/chat about them on tv news, radio, the bbc news website, etc.? For those who've watched it they already know what happened; for those who delibrately haven't we don't care!)

  • Comment number 7.

    I call ceilidhs, pronounced 'kay-lees', on Saturday nights. English ones (cue angry Scots disavowing such things exist!) - a bit like barn dances only much, much better. Most people I know would rather be actually dancing than watching.

  • Comment number 8.

    What do I do, I work too long to waste a Saturday evening on Strictly X Dancing Factor. I watch Deadliest Catch and have a nice Curry

  • Comment number 9.

    Ok you got me - what are Strictly or X Factor?

    Some sort of new scent?

  • Comment number 10.

    To Jon C:

    Not exactly a "new" scent...
    ...if you remember the days of phone boxes, it's like opening the door after a weekend!

  • Comment number 11.

    During the hours these two programmes are broadcasting, I simply switch off the television, and sit staring at the blank screen, while patting myself on the back in an act of childish self-congratulation, assuring myself of my superiority resulting from my eschewing of the mainstream.

    What do I win?

  • Comment number 12.

    These are the two most banal programmes on mainstream TV and it annoys me that we have such a poor choice at prime time family viewing on a Saturday night. At least Merlin is worth waiting for.

  • Comment number 13.

    wow, I want to go to a ceilidh! I rarely put the TV on any more, not so much so that I can pat myself on the back for being non-conformist but because I can literally feel myself losing intelligence and the will to do anything else once I start. I would much rather do something creative or constructive...failing that I suppose I could talk to the other half!

  • Comment number 14.

    To Jennifer276: put 'webfeet' into any search engine and find your closest dance!

  • Comment number 15.

    I have one of these things called a 'social life', which involves going out to pubs, bars, concerts, etc of a Saturday night. And if I didn't, and was forced to watch TV every Saturday, it woudn't be Strict Dancing or X-Idol.

  • Comment number 16.

    and there was me thinking I was the only person in the entire country who watches neither Strictly Come Dancing nor X Factor!
    Actually I am seriously wondering why I let the TV take up the space in my house that it does as it is barely watched nowadays.

  • Comment number 17.

    Those programmes, and others of their ilk, are precisely the reason I no longer have a TV. Far better things to do with my life than watch rubbish.

  • Comment number 18.

    Graphis: Those programmes, and others of their ilk, are precisely the reason I no longer have a TV. Far better things to do with my life than watch rubbish.

    Yes, me too (although having my TV stolen for the second time was the trigger!)
    It makes me a social outcast, though, since I can't talk about what was on TV at the weekend. And don't start me on the persecution from the TV licensing people :-)


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