When Celebrity Apprentice comes calling
by Claudia Carroll
I’m only saying this to give you a bit of a giggle but the thing is, I’ve a new book now and you always have to do the odd bit of press and media for it. I mean, it’s not like any of us authors are paraded onto Graham Norton or anything knee-tremblingly scary, just the odd wee local thing to let everyone know it’s about to hit the shelves.
So anyway, wasn’t I asked to go on the Irish version of Celebrity Apprentice. And have to confess that my initial reaction was to a) go weak-kneed and b) try to drum up a good stout lie along the lines of, ‘well, I’d love to, but sadly, I’ll be in …emm… Albuquerque for the whole entire time you’re filming it. Yes, all six weeks of it. On an … ehh … extended research trip. Lots to see and do in Albuquerque this time of year, I’ll have you know.’
Then I thought, ah to hell with this for a lark, what’s wrong with the truth? And moreover, what’s the point of being a grown adult if you can’t say no? So I did. Just told them straight out and used the magic words that are so easy to think in your head yet so hard to come out with. Sorry, I told them, but I just don’t want to. And thank you God, but the sheer feeling of liberation was only overwhelming. Because ‘I just don’t want to’ didn’t even begin to cover what I really thought, which was that I’d actually gladly pan fry an ovary rather than go on any reality telly show. I mean, could you?
I know, it’s cowardly in the extreme, and it’s only a game show and all that, but I SO wouldn’t be able. God knows, the UK Apprentice is scary enough, with Alan …sorry, I mean SIR Alan Sugar glowering at all the wannabes from under eyebrows that look like guttering overhanging a building, whilst they cower in the boardroom and come out with things like ‘I put my hand up and admit I made a mistake…’ or ‘but you don’t understand! I really want this so, so badly…’
And let’s face it, the Irish version isn’t too far off it for sheer intimidation, now is it? Besides, I just know I’d have ended up making holy mortifying show of myself in the boardroom. Money on it, I’d be the gobshite who made a right pig’s ear of whatever mortifying ‘task’ they set us to do and would probably burst into tears when being told, ‘you’re fired.’ Which I most definitely would be.
Can just see it playing out in front of me; the project manager would very bossily say, ‘well we definitely would have won if it hadn’t been for yer woman here, but then there’s always one bit of dead wood of any team that everyone else has to carry, isn’t there?’
Seriously though, who in their sane mind could ever possibly go on any of those reality TV shows? Don’t get me wrong, I adore watching them, even if X Factor has gone off the boil a bit. But come on, ‘I’m a Celebrity?’
Now I know that apparently the contestants are paid a large whack of cash to take part in it, and get all their nearest and dearest flown out to some swanky five-star hotel in Oz while they’re filming, but still. There is a strong possibly they’ll end up having to eat kangaroo scrotum at some point. Bleughhhh … I’ve visions of some brave contestant one day saying, ‘no, no, Ant and Dec, after you, I absolutely insist … you have the first bite of whale testicle and I’ll just stand here and look on quietly.’
Not to mention the fact they’re all expected to jump out of a helicopter strapped to any one of the following; a former Tory politician/singer in a girl band that had two hits fifteen years ago/cast member from TOWIE. And don’t get me started on the dunny situation; apparently all fifteen contestants or however many it is, have to share the one loo, which some lucky git then has to slop out every morning. Bit like in prison, really.
Now I know those for whom the camera has stopped rolling think these shows will be a big adrenaline shot for flagging careers, otherwise, why would they bother? But then there’s the fact that the public could end up despising them or worse, that they’d become a water cooler object of ridicule.
You see, if you ask me, all those shows lie in the editing and editing is a dark, dark art. Just think about it; producers tape twenty-four hour coverage, then have to cut it down to a hour-long show with many, many juicy bits to lure in viewers. So you could be all sweetness and light for twenty three hours and fifty eight minutes of the day, but then have one tiny, minor wee strop … and let’s face it who wouldn’t, sleeping with a gangload of strangers in an outdoor camp with no minibar or telly? And not even a decent book? And of course, you can bet that’ll be the only clip of you they’d show for the entire show, and it’ll end up on YouTube and it’ll go viral, so in the space of one short TV show, everyone now has you down as some kind of a headcase high-maintenance diva with control issues.
So I’m sorry, but reality telly is great to watch, but sadly not for me. Except maybe for Strictly though … I’d say that’s a genuine bit of crack. And just think of the weight you’d lose….
Claudia Carroll was born in Dublin, where she still lives and works. She’s the author of ten bestselling novels to date; and has recently released Me and You, published by HarperCollins Avon.