Focus on prejudice

After a Gok Wan-inspired 'domestic', Gary Day muses on religion, eternal life and the ugliness of bigotry

November 20, 2008

I think I'll watch How to Look Good Naked" (E4, Thursday 9pm). "It's a bit late for that," said the partner. "No," I corrected her, "it doesn't start for another quarter of an hour." "I could make you look good naked if I took my glasses off," she mused. "But you don't wear them." "True," she sighed.

The programme is sponsored by Specsavers. Presumably that's why Gok Wan, the presenter, changes his optical furniture as often as his outfits. This week it was Lucy's turn to be transformed from what she called a "tractor" into what she didn't call an Aston Martin.

She couldn't remember the last time she was naked in front of anyone, but she will surely never forget the time she stripped for the nation.

But first Gok had to make Lucy see that she wasn't "Goliath", but gorgeous. And so he whisked her off to do what he does best, which is "shop, shop, shop". His idea of a well-balanced person is someone with a Gucci bag in one hand and an Yves St Laurent one in the other.

"Imagine skipping round Tunbridge Wells in that," shrieked Gok as Lucy slipped into a purple number. "I don't skip," said Lucy.

But there was no stopping Gok as he bounced around behind her. I have rarely seen a man smile in a dress shop, much less jump with joy. "Be careful, Gok! You might lose your specs!"

A spa session and a visit to the hairdresser, and Lucy was ready to get her kit off. "How was it?" asked Gok afterwards. "Blinding," said Lucy. There was no stopping her now as she motored down the catwalk in lingerie, loving herself at last.

I wonder how men would cope if they were the subject of such public makeovers? "Why don't you volunteer and we'll find out," asked the partner. Lucy blossomed under the experience and is now a model and a stand-up comedian.

Once you have reached physical perfection, the next step is to live for ever. Dave, from Scotland, pays £150 a month to an American company that, when he dies, will freeze his head until such a time as it can be brought back to life. Clearly, Dave's answer to the problem of how to look good naked is to get rid of his body.

He was just one of the characters featured in Tonight (ITV, Friday 8pm). Strangely, all the men seemed to be called Dave. One Dave intended to live to 120 by subsisting on a calorie-restricted diet; while another, aged 70, smeared testosterone on his elbow and then ran amok among female pensioners on the Florida coast.

A Cambridge scientist, Aubrey de Grey, who can barely be seen behind his beard, has come to the conclusion that age is bad for you. He must have been talking to the partner's father, who has kindly itemised the illnesses I have in store. Not if Aubrey finds a cure first, matey.

But since that's unlikely, I must search for programmes telling me how to look good before God. That is if I believed in Him, Her, It, Whatever. A great deal of faith is required to swallow the premise of Apparitions (BBC1, Thursday 9pm), in which Martin Shaw, who plays Father Jacob, kicks ass in a cassock. What evil spirit, even one that speaks Albanian, is a match for the tough-talking exorcist?

Harmless entertainment? Yes. Unless you watch it side by side with Channel 4's Dispatches (Wednesday 9pm). This disturbing documentary showed what happens when people really do believe in possession.

One Christian had dutifully hammered a nail into a little girl's head because he thought she was a witch. The perpetrator was not evil, just sickeningly ignorant. And his ignorance, as the programme made clear, was due to poverty.

But wealth doesn't always make you wise, as anyone who saw Rich Kid, Poor Kid (Channel 4, Thursday 9pm) will know. Fifteen-year-old Alice, who is at private school, thought new Labour took money from the rich and gave it to the poor and that people on benefits were lazy. At least she did until she met 17-year-old Natalie from the council estate down the road.

The programme showed what happened when two worlds collide. Both girls had their preconceptions challenged - Alice, particularly. Not so her mother, Fiona, who was frighteningly right-wing. We "don't see any white people down here", she complained. "They are all black." Prejudice, clothed or naked, doesn't look good.

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