Saturday, 28 February 2009

Hairy chin

The other night I was watching TV with my dad, a programme on BBC1 after Eastenders called Inside Out. It's basically a regional programme which investigates topics such as, in this instance, teaching children about same sex relationships in schools.

They had this author on who was being interviewed about her childrens' books, which she wrote depicting alternative families, like for kids who might have two dads or two mums.

All good right?


I couldn't focus on a word she was saying. Well, I did for a little bit, but then I noticed something and it made me go "Dad. Dad. Look. That lady looks like Mr. Tumnus" in manner of three year old at a supermarket. If you missed it, which lets be honest you probably did because this isn't the most interesting thing on TV at the moment, then here it is for your viewing..err...pleasure.

Now, you probably thought the same thing I did. Like you probably didn't see it at first - but then you look a bit closer and you see all these wirey, fairly bushy hairs sproating from her chin. It's not that I want to mock her or anything, but having worked in TV, I could only imagine what had been going through the producers' heads when this woman rocked up. Trust me, it would have been an issue. It reminded me of a time when I worked at the Huge Broadcasting Company on the programme last year.

Whenever we'd have contributers on, they would normally be members of the public or experts we'd found. If they consented and had a great story, we'd film them for the show. Except the thing was, that you couldn't really ask for photos before putting them on camera. So they might have had a great story, sounded normal on the phone, but until the researcher, camera man and crew had got up to their house - it was always a bit hit and miss as to what, or who, might open the door.

It wasn't that the producers were being particularly mean, it's just that you don't want the face of the person getting in the way of the story itself. You want viewers to get involved with what's being said, not going "oh my god, that man has an extraordinarily large boil on his forehead". Many a time the researchers would come back from someones house with hours of interview footage, and there would be debates as to whether they could use it. It might be because of appearance, or perhaps out of nerves the contributor had got drunk beforehand and we'd have the problem of someone telling an awful experience with a manic, pissed up grin on their face.

One such time, the team were gathered round a TV in the studio viewing footage of someone they'd just interviewed. The person had a great story, had agreed to go on camera, so the crew had gone up there. There was a lot of umming, erring, "I see what you mean"-ing, so I went over to investigate.

The problem?

The woman they'd gone to interview was actually a man. Now I don't know the ins and outs, like whether they were expecting a male or female from the fairly deep voice, but the person who greeted them was clearly a transexual. Long hair, female in every way...apart from the fact that it was evidently a man "underneath".

Eventually the producers solved the problem by only using shots from a particular angle, and no close ups. Close up, the manly features were obvious. From far away, and slightly to the side? They could get away with it. So that is what they did.

So if a researcher for a TV programme ever gets in touch with you, then suddenly after meeting them you hear no more about it - it may have something to do with your funny little beard. They'll tell you it's because they've decided not to use your story any more, but really it's your face. Sorry to shatter the illusion.


The Unbearable Banishment said...

Q: If we laugh at this woman, does that mean we are morally bankrupt?

A: Who cares! She could easily lob that thing off! It’s not like we’re laughing at a cripple.

Scarlett Parrish said...

It was the first thing I noticed.

I want to point and laugh...but then I have no facial hair, being a girl...and I'm not a fawn either!

Brennig said...

A hundred thousand years ago when I worked in social services one of my 'clients' could have been the person the song 'Lydia the Bearded Lady'. It took about six months before she allowed herself to be persuaded to have it waxed. It took years off her. And made it so much easier to look her in the eye. :)

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Unbearable - I'm with you there. Thing is, I didn't really laugh when I saw it. I just sat there kind of mesmerised by it. My dad was just looking very confused. It was a strange experience.

Scarlett - This woman is probably the most fawn-like being I've seen in a while. I've never seen a woman with a beard like that.

Brennig - Thats the thing. I don't understand why she didn't just trim it a little bit if she knew she was going on TV. She probably doesn't care, too busy worrying about the death threats she received for promoting same sex relationships to kids in children's books.

Anonymous said...

OMG! That reminds me of a really embarrassing incident on a bus once with my son. He was sat there asking stupid questions, "why is grass green", why this why that and I was sick of it. He then asked "Do ladies have beards?" and I said loudly and crossly "No, don't be stupid, you know ladies don't have beards,that wouldn't be nice at all" and he stood up and pointed to a lady standing just a few feet in front of me and said really loudly "why has she got one then?" and she had - just like in that photo. I was mortified. Everyone on the bus was looking from me to the bearded woman.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Ahahahaha oh noooo, that's so embarrassing. Stories like that actually make me dread having children.

monkey said...



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