The World's Most Enhanced Woman and Me, Channel 4
INSPIRED by the success of nerdish investigator Louis Theroux, the art of the inquisitive Brit abroad examining the wackier aspects of life has become a television genre in itself. You could argue that it all began with Alan Whicker back in the 1970s, but the post-Theroux brigade (himself influenced by journalist Jon Ronson) are a much more half-baked bunch.
Documentaries presented by the likes of Dawn Porter and Mark Dolan are virtually identical in design. Without fail, they all begin with the host "embarking on a journey", usually involving fundamentalist Christians or people with some form of physical deformity, and contain endless shots of them driving or gazing thoughtfully out of aeroplane windows. "I wanted to find out more," is their mantra, as they proceed to find out very little at all.
Interestingly (and I use the word in its loosest sense), both Porter and Dolan are alumni of the hidden camera prank show Balls of Steel, one of the most despicable comedy programmes Channel 4 has ever shown. It's for this reason that I can't fully warm to them, despite their essentially affable natures. Just as you'd be unlikely to welcome into your home an ageing Nazi commandant on the grounds that he seems like a nice enough old codger, I find it impossible to forgive anyone involved with Balls of Steel, whether they were just following orders or not.
Dolan's latest, The World's Most Enhanced Woman and Me, was – as the title baldly suggests – an attempt to track down the owner of the largest fake breasts on Earth. As ever, Dolan's reasons for doing so remained a mystery. Presumably the pay was good.
He first met a former "big boob superstar" who'd had her implants removed for health reasons. "My brain was swelling, my lungs were swelling …" she revealed, making the ownership of enormo-globes sound like standing on the surface of Mars without a spacesuit. She actually kept her old implants in a box, and showed them to a dis-gusted Dolan. They looked like bags of filthy pond water.
His encounter with Korean model Minka, owner of the world's second-largest pair of fake breasts, was rather awkward and bleak. She seemed sadly resigned to working in the porn industry, simply because it was a good way of making millions, while her manager/partner Woody – a morose Richard Nixon look-a-like correctly described by Dolan as "a perplexing little man" – unhesitatingly announced that he would be "outta here tomorrow, business-wise" if his precious "commodity" ever had her breasts reduced. They both seemed locked into a kind of joyless, hollow parody of success.
Dolan finally tracked down his bounty in the preposterous shape of Sheyla Hershey, the Brazilian equivalent of Jordan. Sheyla more than anything else wanted to be remembered as the owner of the largest fake breasts of all time. We all have our dreams, I suppose.
Unsurprisingly, it soon transpired that Sheyla was a deeply unhappy woman, whose only means of validating her self-worth were through fame and notoriety. But this was something that any one of us could have assumed.
Theroux is a brilliant documentarian because of his ability to get to know his subjects over a relatively lengthy time period, uncovering unexpected details and quirks in the process. The likes of Dolan and Porter, however, are neither dogged nor engaging enough to really dredge up anything other than the most superficial observations. But I'm sure that won't stop them bothering other vulnerable people in the future.