Spare me those Z-listers who complain about being in the public eye ... it beats working for a living
When I first took up my role on Judge Rinder for ITV in 2014, I had no idea what the price of “celebrity” might be. Everyone else seemed to warn me that it would be dire. And their prophecies became all the more urgent once I decided to take part in Strictly Come Dancing, which attracted more than 13 million viewers by the time the public tired of my facial choreography and sent me packing.
The truth is that before mincing into the sparkling behemoth that is Strictly, the odd person might have nodded politely at me (or, in some cases, tell me that I was a guilty pleasure since they were no longer drinking before 6pm). By the time my first attempt at a cha-cha aired (all sex-face and little substance) I was catapulted straight into the alphabet soup of celebrity.
People told me to be “careful” out and about; that here, there and everywhere in London, hands would reach out — fully flexed, as if doing a perfect jive.
Utter nonsense. In fact, this experience has only made me largely unsympathetic towards celebrities who moan about stardom. There are so many of them these days, aren’t there? Wherever they are on the celebrity scale, you’ll find these people droning on about how difficult it all is.
Having accidentally stumbled into a late-night showing of Twilight the other evening, I looked up the actress who played the pouting lead (Kristen Stewart) and discovered that she had once said: “Fame is the worst thing in the world.” It can’t be as bad as it was for that poor darling Robert Pattinson, having to spend eternity with that surly girl.
On the very rare occasion that somebody comes over to me and asks for a photo (which they always do nervously and politely because they seem to assume that I have the power to send them to prison), I am only too happy to stand and smile vapidly at a selfie-stick. It’s the least I can do.
I have zero tolerance for anyone in the public eye who dares to eye-roll at this sort of thing. By doing nothing, you get to improve someone else’s day — so, as I recently said to someone rather well-known who was complaining about the “exhaustion” she felt because people all have cameras these days, “Jolly well smile, be polite and keep whatever self-indulgent first-world issue you may have to yourself.”
I don’t want to be misunderstood here — of course people are entitled to privacy, and the media can be quite disgusting at times. Nevertheless, it really does seem to me that the downsides of being well-known are few and far between.
I ought to disclose that I have very little personal interest in celebrity at all. This is almost certainly because I am about as cool as a cassette player blasting out Nana Mouskouri tunes, so I have no idea who anyone is or is not.
In fact, I am entirely unimpressed by the famous unless they were on television in the Eighties, so when I recently met the heavenly Patrick Duffy (aka Bobby Ewing from Dallas) I simply couldn’t contain myself. As I nervously approached the great man, my hand as sweaty as his hair in that shower scene, I had the perfect opener: “I just wanted to say that you were instrumental in bringing down the Ceausescu dictatorship in Romania.” I wanted to die immediately.
Seeing me cringe, the beautiful Bobby was utterly charming and delighted. For he is from a different generation — one that enjoyed the glamour and prestige of stardom, accepting the minor inconvenience of autographs, instead of weeping about Press intrusion.
The bottom line is that whether you are that man who once appeared as the controversial guest on Coach Trip or an international god, there is very little to dislike about being a celebrity.
And for those celebrities who do complain, there are plenty of other jobs out there.