Jane Graham: Hair’s why Jimmy Nesbitt will now make the ideal romantic lead
I suggested in this column a few months ago that Jimmy Nesbitt might have been attracted to his role in the BBC1 submarine drama The Deep because of the thick head of hair it bestowed upon him.
His character, Clem Donnelly, was a virile, dynamic chief engineer, a self-sacrificing hero whom male colleagues admired and females got giggly around.
It was an unusually romantic role for Nesbitt — there was no cheekiness to this chappie, no gags undermining his gravitas — and it clearly demanded the full set of follicles to be entirely convincing.
It occurred to me that Nesbitt, who’s been mourning his receding hairline for years, had been seduced by the idea of endless photo shoots in which he sported a luxuriant hairpiece reminiscent of his hirsute youth.
However, this week Nesbitt confessed that the windswept look he’d displayed in The Deep did not come from BBC props but was in fact the result of two recent hair transplants.
After years of fretting over what he says became an “obsession” he decided to go through with the operation which he claims has “changed his life”.
Of course, there have been snippy little comments in the media ridiculing his vanity but the truth is, Nesbitt looks damn good with more hair.
He now has the air of a serious romantic lead for the first time since he became a star.
Roles which have previously been the territory of dashing Brit actors like Ewan McGregor, Clive Owen and Colin Firth could conceivably come his way — can it be coincidence that, post-op, he’s secured three major new film roles, including one in Ralph Fiennes’ adaption of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus?
Since Delilah stole into Samson’s bedroom and fashioned his Herculean locks into a Billy the Fish mullet, we have understood the link between a man’s mane and his strength.
For men in the public eye this is multiplied. Hair-survival was an essential aspect of decades of heartthrob status for Cary Grant, Robert Redford and George Clooney (Sean Connery is the almost sole exception to the rule), and equally crucial to the continuing credibility of The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Paul Weller. While balding rock stars are more likely to end up in the ‘Who Was I?’ line-up on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, the Gallagher brothers can probably count on careers as long as the mop-tops remain unthreatened.
More importantly, the transformation has clearly made Nesbitt happy, and good on him for admitting how much his betraying hairline affected him emotionally. It’s not easy for men to concede to such weaknesses, especially Irish men, to whom metrosexual is generally still regarded as a term of abuse.
Irish men are supposed to have enough charm to overcome any physical imperfection and Nesbitt is indeed known for his innate charisma.
Like half of Northern Ireland, I bumped into Nesbitt on a night out once and it’s true that self-esteem never struck me as one of his problems.
But I did notice that he made a self-deprecating joke about his baldness only a few minutes into the conversation. I’m delighted that he can now hold his head up high without worrying that the resulting glare will cause an accident.
And I hope the new, unarguably improved, version of one of the nation’s most popular and down to earth stars will encourage the media to call off the venomous witch-hunt for female celebrities who may also have opted for cosmetic enhancement.
And pigs might wear pig-tails.