This one deserves more than a tweet

Ms Mordaunt, MP, takesa political position

Ms Mordaunt, MP, takes a political position

Penelope Mary Mordaunt, who markets herself as “Penny”, is off for a jolly on “reality” (which term increasingly adds a new dimension to surreality) TV:


This may have, or not have a connection with Ms Mordaunt’s day-job as MP for Portsmouth North. Which is one of those “swing” seats, tending to go one way or the other as governments change. And/or her problem that the ConDem government, to buttress the “No” votes in the Scottish referendum, have just sold out 1,775 defence jobs in Portsmouth.

Let’s have a slo-mo replay from the Independent:

Penny Mordaunt, the Conservative MP and ministerial aide, is facing criticism after announcing that she is to strip to her swimsuit and take part in the ITV celebrity diving show, Splash!

Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North and a member of the Royal Naval Reserve, will compete in the show, hosted by Olympic diver Tom Daley, alongside the glamour model Danielle Lloyd and Dan Osborne from reality show, The Only Way Is Essex.

Ms Mordaunt, 40, who topped a 2011 website poll of the sexiest female MPs, is donating her fee towards paying for the renovation of Hilsea Lido and will contribute the rest to armed forces charities. “Splash! is scary….dunk tank was worse!!,” she tweeted.

The MP, who is parliamentary private secretary to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, was attacked for appearing in an entertainment show at a time when Portsmouth’s shipbuilding industry is under threat following a government downgrade of the port.

Or, as the once-reputable Channel 4 news-presenter, Cathy Newman, now moonlighting for the Torygraph, has it:

Tory MP Penny Mordaunt’s decision to bare almost all on ITV’s celebrity diving show Splash! has generated entirely predictable howls of outrage from all and sundry.

Comparisons have immediately been drawn with Nadine Dorries’ I’m a Celebrity stint in the jungle. Some newspapers have warned her she’ll never be taken seriously again, and her Labour opponent in her Portsmouth North seat tweeted: “Truly astonishing. Whilst workers rallying to save 1,000 jobs, their MP has been training for celebrity game show.”

Twice as (n)ice

Ice-skater Sonja Henie surrendered her amateur status after 1936 World Figure Skating Championships to Twentieth Century Fox. Scandinavian blondes were then, as now, in fashion, and Darryl Zanuck signed her to Twentieth Century Fox. Henie proved as productive on the silver screen as she had been on the frigid H2O.

UnknownTo compete with Fox’s success, in 1941 Louis B. Mayer at MGM wanted an equivalent; and thought she was Esther Williams, who had won US National swimming titles.  The studio then spent a quarter-of-a-million dollars (no small sum in 1941) on a swimming-pool in which she could perform. A spin-off was numerous pin-ups of Esther in her swimming costumes — most of which were circulated to the armed services, now on active duty. Her War Bond tours evolved a sketch in which a selected serviceman was invited on stage, given a “script” to interact with the star. Esther would attempt to get this stooge to make love to her. To each appeal, the stooge had to respond “No!” This provoked a Williams strip, reducing her down to a gold-lamé swimsuit to conclude the scene.

Esther Williams, in a series of less-than-great movies, rolled in oodles of dollars for MGM for the next decade or so.

All of which leads us to …

… two pithy comments.

There is the well-known:

“Wet she’s a star, dry she ain’t.”

To general disgust and even disbelief, this is not a Sam Goldwynism. That bon-mot was, it is now generally agreed, promulgated by Fanny Brice (whose verbal tartness never recovered from being born Fania Borach in New York, and growing up across the Hudson in Noo Joisey).

PosterIt may well be fair comment, and marked when Esther Williams’s career came off the rails. MGM took their star out of water, and cast her as K.C.Higgins, the owner of the baseball team, in Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949). The grit in her sandwich, allegedly, was Gene Kelly, who couldn’t cope with having to look up to her full and statuesque five feet, nine inches, plus heels.

The other comment is from Esther Williams herself:

“If they ever teach a duck to act, I’m in big trouble.”

So we paddle our way back to Ms Mordaunt

However well-intentioned her dive might be (apparently her take from the TV show goes to a local Lido), there are ample opportunities for everything to belly-flop. As Esther Williams herself wryly put it:

What the public expects and what is healthy for an individual are two very different things.


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Filed under Daily Telegraph, films, Independent, politics, Quotations, sleaze., Tories.

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