Belfast Telegraph

Now, that's what I call a role model

By Christina Patterson

Putting aside the twice-daily irritation triggered by a Book of the Week whose title (Scott-land: the Man Who Invented a Nation) had me screaming at the radio that a man could not be a land and could someone please make their mind up, my Radio 4 treat of the week was Desert Island Discs with Kathy Burke.

Kirsty Young began by telling Burke that Stephen Fry held her up as an example of how "it is possible to be a woman without going all mincey and weird", which was an interesting insight into the perma-tweeting national treasure's view of half the human race. What he meant, and what she meant, of course, was that Burke was so brave about looking bloody awful.

Burke's mother died when she was two. Her father was an alcoholic. It was, said Burke, only "but for the grace of God" that she didn't end up like one of the characters in the film that won her a Cannes Best Actress award, Nil by Mouth.

But, simpered pretty, painted Kirsty, didn't people ever tell Burke as a child that she was gorgeous? "No," said Burke cheerfully, "but I wasn't." And didn't, asked the married-to-the-millionaire-owner-of-a-chain-of-media-clubs Kirsty, she want a relationship? She seemed, she added, just a touch patronisingly, like someone who could "enrich someone else's life". "I'm not here," said Burke, "to sort out someone else's bleeding life. I want to enrich my own life."

Well, three cheers for a brilliant actor, a talented director and a down-to-earth, plain-speaking woman who refuses to be defined by a man or her looks. All of which poor Kirsty clearly couldn't grasp. "Let's imagine," she persisted, "someone who might sweep you off your feet!" Let's imagine a presenter of Desert Island Discs who actually listened to the answers to the questions she asked.



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