I knew we’d arrived in Hell when I saw Tara Palmer-Tomkinson teetering about with a glass of cheap champagne on improbably high heels.
We were in a semi-marquee where there was a make-shift bar and Z-list celebs waiting to be ushered into Hell’s Kitchen. There was no door.
“I thought hell was meant to be hot,” said Mary.
A production assistant came up to us.
“You see, the thing is,” she said in that Estuary voice favoured by TV production assistants. “I can’t find you anywhere on our list.”
I thought briefly about strangling her, or pushing my way past security and strangling Marco, but instead I told her to go and strangle Marco and tried to stop my teeth from chattering for long enough to drink my champagne (which by the way I had to dilute with cranberry juice to make it taste better).
Our surroundings were not salubrious. They were, frankly, pretty shabby. And freezing cold.
After another half an hour we were told we could go in but would have to share a table with another couple and it would be quite a squeeze as it was a table designed for two. Talk about star-treatment. So in we walked.
“And we’re on air between 9 and 10.30 so try not to walk around,” added the production assistant.
“I’m not going anywhere else in these shoes,” said Mary. As she said that she stopped dead. In fact she wasn’t going anywhere as her heel was caught in the grill by the door to the set. There was no budging it. Three burly security guards tried but were worried they would snap the heel off.
“I knew these shoes would be the star of the show,” said Mary.
Eventually a pair of pliers was found and the heel extracted.
Our dinner companions were a charming young couple. Jeff had just signed a big deal with Marco for Unilever.
The dinner was less charming. After a long wait the courses came thick and fast. So thick and fast that you didn’t have time to finish one before the other arrived. The food was mediocre but we were told that originally they were just planning canapés for last night so we were lucky to be fed at all.
We weren’t interviewed at all (and why not I ask myself, we were by far the most interesting and attractive people in the room) but when Mary snuck to the look to call her husband he confirmed that her hair was on TV. After dinner a totally charmless security guard walked around shouting at everyone to clear out. We were only saved by Marco’s appearance.
Afterwards there was an “exclusive” party. This was about as exclusive as an event in a student bar and had all the same charming elements like plastic glasses and people dressed as if they were about to go camping. I was longing to get out as soon as possible. We tried to get a taxi. After waiting almost an hour we were told there was no hope. We looked out into the pouring rain and wind. In the distance I spotted a familiar car. Marco’s driver was there. We piled into his car with a sigh of relief. There was heating, comfortable seats and no Tara Palmer-Tomkinson.
Next time someone asks me to go on a reality TV show, remind me to say no.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007