TV review: Who Do You Think You Are? | Seven Dwarves | Celebrity Big Brother
Even if you’ve never read a Potter tale, you’ve probably squinted at an adult engrossed in one on a train and muttered: “You probably still know the whereabouts of your teddy as well. Read a grown-up book!” We all know one thing: that very little is known about J K Rowling. An ideal subject, then, for Who Do You Think You Are?
For a moment I wasn’t sure I’d ever heard her speak, such has been her unwillingness to become a media tart. What if she sounds like Ena Sharples? She didn’t. Rowling was investigating the quarter-French bit of her, and a ripping yarn this proved.
Beginning in Edinburgh among the photo albums of her Auntie Marion, the programme completely ignored her father’s side of the family. Maybe Rowling prefers to keep it private or maybe it’s just dull. Well, it would have to go some to match the story of her maternal great-grandfather Louis Volant, the Legion d’honneur he never won, the “medal” which turned out to be a trade union bawbee, Rowling’s momentary embarrassment – then the discovery that the ex-waiter qualified for an even greater First World War honour for helping keep the Germans out of Paris as a barely armed territorial, only for him to end up in a communal grave, the fate of France’s dead when no-one visits.
More tears from Rowling, and some anger. “He had family,” she said. She didn’t go back to them and ask difficult questions, which would have been interesting; rather she kept control of the programme, finding affinity with all the single mothers in her saga (she was one, too), and finally expressing relief that she wasn’t, after all, 16th-German. Fascinating, with Rowling a definite candidate for the inevitable spin-off series: Yes, But Who Do You Really Think You Are?
Were we supposed to laugh during Seven Dwarves when Max, all 4ft 2ins of him, went for a drink after the show and from under the lip of the bar squeaked: “Excuse me, can I have some service here please?” Not sure, but I definitely chuckled when Josh – 4ft 8ins and something of a freak among the stars of this new documentary series – offered up his world view: “I’m used to looking at people’s arses and them having a scratch when they think nobody’s around.”
The “show”, of course, was a panto: Snow White. It’s always bloody Snow White for these guys. Josh has seven under his tiny, shiny belt; Max has endured “that Hi Ho shit” 12 times and craves a bigger challenge. First, he hoped he’d get positives from this programme housing them all together. “I’ve grown up in a tall person’s world; I’ve never had the support of little people,” he said. In between rehearsals, we watched them unwind on the golf course and at the karaoke machine. They compared genetic disorders and the taunts they’d suffered. They even began romances with each other. And then we saw Max get his hoped-for breakthrough in a movie called My Big Fat Gypsy Gangster. Writer Ricky Grover’s motives for hiring him seemed suspect – “I’ve always been fascinated by little people. I used to follow them around and stroke them for luck” – but the star was happy. As the great Randy Newman sang: “Short people are just the same as you and I.”
No Charlie Sheen, but the returning Celebrity Big Brother has got Jedward – one minced convincingly along the gangway, the other fell over as is traditional – and Sally Bercow who admitted: “I suppose people know me as the ex-alcoholic who posed in a bedsheet and is married to the House of Commons Speaker.” Considering the pressure her husband is under from David Cameron, her presence is a surprise. I might even watch.