Losing it... Gerry Anderson gets to root of hair loss
I've known the broadcaster and writer Gerry Anderson for more than 15 years.
Like his listeners, I know that once he "becomes very interested" in a subject he will not stop talking about it until he "becomes very interested in something else" or until his radio listeners cannot possibly offer any more strange or unusual stories about that subject.
From parrots that sing Daniel O'Donnell songs to stories of unusual ancient American Indian mating rituals there are many subjects that Gerry has fully explored both off and on air.
So when he said he was "interested in the international world of hair loss " I braced myself.
I'd never really looked that much at Gerry's hair but when he asked me " Do you think I'm losing it?" I couldn't really lie.
It is that sort of "does my bum look big in this?" type question that your best friend asks. The wrong answer can always have serious consequences.
I think it all began when Gerry saw a picture of Jimmy Nesbitt's hair and wanted it …
"I think that's amazing. Doesn't Jimmy look amazing? How did he do that? I might like that."
So we called the surgeon who did Jimmy's hair and made an appointment.
At the consultation I was surprised to learn from the experts just how vulnerable men and women feel about their hair.
Some of the stories we discussed made me instantly realise just how hair loss in many cases had made people completely lose their confidence and result in some not leaving the house or extreme hat wearing to cover up the affected areas.
End Quote Alison Millar
I decided to film the long car journeys across the States. It was a good time to try to understand what Gerry was feeling about his hair and the people we were meeting. The filming also kept my mind off his terrifying driving”
I admired Gerry for allowing me to film his consultation - something that felt intimate and very private. The doctor told us to go away and think about it as surgery was not just expensive but also something that the patient had to absolutely be in the right place to do.
So, whilst Gerry considered what he wanted to do, I arranged for us to explore as many other avenues as possible.
An internet search offers at a touch 3.5m suggestions in 27 seconds. Most of these are in the USA so that is where we decided to go.
First stop was a visit to the man who made Frank Sinatra's hairpieces. He was able to show Gerry a whole cabinet of Frank's wigs and offered us one of his bestsellers.
We then drove west to meet Dr Robert Haber who has invented a state-of-the-art laser hat - something Gerry was quite taken with.
Then to LA where cosmetic surgery is an everyday necessity and we were spoilt for choice.
I decided to film the long car journeys across the States - it was a good time to try to understand what Gerry was feeling about his hair and the people we were meeting. The filming also kept my mind off his terrifying driving.
We discovered he had no fear on America's huge freeways and no sense of direction.
Los Angeles offered some crazy solutions - a far cry from the "natural remedies" of goat droppings and cod liver oil that his listeners had suggested. We drove thousands of miles and met some leading experts but what would Gerry decide to do?