It was a big weekend for Little Mix this weekend. Winning the X Factor, being considered for the Olympics opening ceremony.....I wonder what their world is like right now? Crazy? Hectic? Amazing? I just hope that they are having the chance to stop and take stock a little, to smell the roses, to enjoy being at the centre of such an incredible experience because it may be over all too soon...
Celebrity culture has changed behind all recognition since I first started broadcasting back in 1996 on The Girlie Show. Back then, celebrity culture was a very different beast. The plethora of gossip magazines that throng the shelves now didn't even exist and most celebrity drama went unreported: when Sara Cox and I had a squabble over a boy back in our Girlie Show heyday, it was reported briefly on the showbiz page of The Sun (presided over back then by one Andy Coulson); if the same thing happened now, it would be splashed all over every magazine, from Heat, to Closer, to Star to Reveal and we would both be fielding offers from OK! to tell our sides of the story. For celebrities now, no tiny part of their lives go unreported, untweeted and untalked about by the water cooler in offices up and down the country. It must be exhausting to be the subject of so much constant conjecture :-/.
On the other hand, however, fame now is fickle and fleeting. The reality show bubble refuses to burst and is still tossing out brand new celebrities the way the Hovis factory tosses out loaves of bread and only a lucky few seem to have any staying power. It makes sense really: the law of averages says that if you oversaturate any market, some of the wheat will separate from the chaff. One wonders what will become of the Geordie Shore cast in a few years? However, one reality show stars, whose fragile egos I don't worry, about are the Made In Chelsea bunch, since when the public appearance money dries up, Mummy and Daddy will still be able to keep them in the fine style to which they were already well accustomed to before fame arrived and swelled their already bulging Mulberry purses even more....;)
You see, I know first hand how it feels to be cast aside when one's bright shining star fades a little. I know how it feels to get used to the red carpet flashbulbs then notice them slowly, surreptitiously move onto the next up and coming TV presenter, fresher of face and ubiquitous on our televisions. I didn't suddenly get bad at my job but I did become yesterday's TV poster girl and compared with Caroline Flack and her colourful love life, I am probably incredibly boring.
So I am no longer considered for telly work. I don't want to sound like I feel terribly sorry for myself because I don't: I had a really good time and my slide down the scale happened really quite gradually so I had plenty of time to get used to my new, anonymous life and I have reinvented myself (mainly out of necessity to stay productive and creative) as a blogger (a writer?) and I still hope that telly hasn't entirely given up on me and I will be back on your screens sometime soon.
No, my transition has been, if anything, a voyage of self discovery: I have found out what really matters in my life, I have found out who my friends really are and I have found out that I am good at lots of other things besides broadcasting. In my case, I feel that my age has helped me cope with my changing circumstances. But I really feel for all the reality show kids that shoot high then get dropped like the proverbial hot bricks. It must come as a terrible shock to win a reality show one year and then have to work the cruise ships the next. At least with the singing shows, the kids that take part have a real talent, but what of the structured reality show stars? The Mark Wrights? The Spencer Matthews? The Jay Gardners? It must be the hardest thing in the world to be the centre of attention one minute and Heat magazine's "crap spot" the next....
In my humble experience, there is something strangely addictive about being famous: it's just wonderful when everyone wants to talk to you, give you lovely things and invite you to incredible showbiz parties. When those things stop happening, it must be like having a hit of the finest heroin then forever chasing the high you got from that first hit.
I truly believe that all those hapless reality TV rejects should have access to free therapy provided by the TV companies that made them into commodities, because ultimately, that's all they really are to the puppet masters. Do you think Simon Cowell gives a hoot about the hearts he breaks on a yearly basis? And I know that you will all say that these kids should know what they are getting themselves into but the fact is, everyone of those poor kids will think "I'll be different, I'm built to last, I'll conquer the world" and it will still be a shock to them when they become just another z list casualty.
So, I wish Little Mix all the very best, I hope they are having the ride of their lives and I hope they have some good people around them, making sure that they know that all the celebrity stuff is ultimately stuff and nonsense and won't keep you warm at night (or even buy a roof over your head). And I hope that they are keeping all the clippings and the YouTube URLs to show their children one day.
But what I hope most for them is that they are truly living in the moment, since the 21st century moment is ephemeral in the extreme.
Follow Sarah Cawood on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@sarah_cawood