Friday, March 06, 2009

Last night on BBC3: Natalie Cassidy's Real Britain

Natalie Cassidy, aka Sonia out of EastEnders, is annoyed. Fed up with gossip stories about how perfect celebrities are – although actually only the really boring gossip stories are about how perfect celebrities are – the soap actress is presenting Natalie Cassidy's Real Britain, which tells the story of two unique real people (i.e. not from London, not obviously beautiful) as they hold their noses and hurl themselves face first into the swimming pool of fame. 

First up is endearingly naïve South Shields girl Lauren Luke, whose YouTube videos, in which she gives make-up tips, have pulled in a total of more than 30 million views. And what has it got her? Nothing, that's what. Luckily, there's a New York marketing firm who think they can turn the hits into dollars by releasing a make-up line using Lauren's name.

The second story follows the adventures of Nicky Avery, an Essex man diagnosed with breast cancer at the mind-bogglingly young age of 24. He wants to turn the disease into a living – hey, it's his cancer, he can do what he wants with it – so, despite having already sold his story umpteen times, he heads to London for a meeting with Max Clifford in the hope of getting a TV gig. Although both Lauren and Nicky are chasing their dreams in unconventional ways, neither seems to have any beef with celebrity culture, making for a programme that doesn't quite seem to know what it wants to be.

The real life stories work well enough in their own right, but they're bookended by Natalie's tub-thumping "fame culture = last days of Rome" screeds, which at times just seem to be an excuse for the soap star to blow off some steam about the unfair way the celeb magazines have treated her. Could it be that the programme makers have just tacked a celebrity name onto the title in order to pull in a few extra viewers? Surely not!

by Will Parkhouse, Wednesday 4 March 2009 

Originally published on

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