BEWARE the shark-infested fiery pits of fame. For those burned by it, the best thing to do is vamoose from the public eye altogether.
People, for example, like Princess Diana’s disgraced ex-butler Paul Burrell who blended back into civvy street to nurse his forever tarnished reputation, never to be seen again.
That is, if you didn’t catch him on I’m A Celebrity, Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes, Celebrity Coach Trip or in his clandestine, anonymous shop, Paul Burrell Flowers & Gifts, on Farndon High Street.
Aside from that, there’s no tracking him down.
On Tuesday night, though, fiercely private Burrell’s cover was blown when literally dozens of TLC viewers witnessed him meet up with Ken and Jo Dobson, who’ve idolised him since Di’s death, in the strange realm of Superstars and Superfans.
A quite astonishing hour of telly that began with him referring to himself in the third person (“There’s a strange feel about Paul Burrell out there in the world”) and ended, no word of a lie, with him creeping out of the elderly couple’s wardrobe, wearing pyjamas, and snuggling into bed with them.
In between was either a carefully staged spoof or the most brilliant, funny documentary I’ve seen since the Tourette’s episode of (Stephen) Fry’s Planet Word in 2011.
Remember, however, “international superstar” Burrell has form when it comes to making a genuine prat of himself on telly. And no one’s that good an actor.
So I’m convinced it’s the latter.
Why else would the Dobsons admit phoning the bloke every Tuesday for 14 years to declare their adoration?
The latest of which included this exchange: “Hello Paul.”
“Hello Jo. Don’t forget to take your tablets.”
“Yes, I’ve taken my pills.”
They’re the last people you’d have over for lunch.
With the camera rolling, though, Burrell invited them into his “inner sanctum” – a flat above the florist.
But don’t presume he doesn’t take his personal security lightly. Oh no.
In Burrell’s imaginary world, a tabloid sting lies behind every corner.
So there he was hosting his shop’s 10th anniversary party, frisking old biddies for hidden wires down their bloomers as they entered the room.
“She’s safe,” he whispered to the crew, before events took a truly bizarre turn.
The Dobsons suddenly appeared on his landing to this greeting: “I see you’ve found your own way up,” with a Harry Hill sideways glance to camera.
His mouth said: “Good to see you.” His eyes said: “Someone call the police!”
Jo, who’d been “on and off the toilet with excitement since 4.40am,” informed him: “When I refer to you, I always say Mr Paul Burrell. Not ‘Blabbermouth’,” before admitting she’d gladly do time for strangling anyone who did.
Several hours of regret and head in hands later, Burrell eventually got rid of them, declaring the need for a lie down.
But it’s not the surreal final three-in-a-bed scene I’ll remember most.
It’s this dialogue. Burrell: “I don’t really like the C-word because I just don’t think I am a celebrity.”
Director: “Are you called the C-word often?”
“I’m called it a lot. I’ve had to get used to it.”
Yes, Paul. Fame can do that.
WHEN Miranda Met Bruce... I fell asleep.
But I did wake up in time to hear the Strictly host bemoan impressionists: “They still do me as though I’m 30 years old.”
How any impersonator knows how cavemen spoke is beyond me.
And he announced: “I’m going to play the piano, with your permission.”
THINGS I learned watching Celebrity Super Spa, featuring six vaguely famous people “getting into places where the sun has never shone”.
(Channel 5, to be specific.)
Yvette Fielding’s feet have “no fungal STDs”, which is reassuring to everyone, I’m sure.
Helen Flanagan has: “Never used a mop before,” though that was really a given.
And neither she nor Fielding have matured beyond puberty: “You should grow up.”
“Well, YOU should grow up,” they bickered.
Co-host Laura Jackson suggested: “Maybe they all should be in hiding.”
Until series two, hopefully. (They are axing it after one series, right?)
THIS week’s Couch Potato Spudulikes...
* The on-screen sparks between Peaky Blinders’ Sam Neill and Cillian Murphy over an afternoon tea showdown.
* This Morning’s Phillip Schofield hastily changing the subject when Chris Moyles claimed: “I’m quite a handsome young man.” Moving swiftly on...
* Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood telling Loose Women how he marks the dancers: “I don’t care what emotional state people are in. Why should I take that into consideration?” (Take note, X Factor.)
*And Dragons’ Den’s Deborah Meaden: “I’m afraid I’m about to say those two words...
“Regretfully I’m out.”
THIS Morning’s producers lifted their four-year guest ban on Celebrity Big Brother transsexual poltergeist Lauren Harries on Tuesday.
So she said of her time on CBB: “Thank you to all the people who voted and even had their phones cut off to vote for me to stay in.”
Phillip Schofield to Emma Willis: “It’s harsh to cut someone’s phone off voting for her.”
Harsh but fair, Schofe.
SOME bright BBC1 spark must have seen Mrs Brown’s Boys’ success and thought: “Let’s make another Irish sitcom.”
The result? The embarrassingly awful Father Figure, the mother of all flops that needs renaming...
YOU think EastEnders can get no more ludicrous.
Then Kat offers a roof over the head of the woman who stole her baby and replaced it with her own dead infant.
And Kim describes Phil and Shirley as “the Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor of Walford.”
Further proof Albert Square is more detached from the wider world than the town trapped inside the invisible force-field on C5’s Under The Dome.
This week, Jean left. The week before, Ronnie returned.
On Friday, Peggy made a cameo, coming off the bench in the 89th minute as a super-sub, on loan from FC Porto.
And next week, David Wicks is back.
It’s not so much a soap, more a Chelsea squad rotation policy.
THIS week’s Couch Potato Spuduhates...
* The Three-Day Nanny joining the conveyor belt of child-discipline shows.
* Gary Barlow asking Stephanie Woods for a second song at her second crack at X Factor, the same Gary Barlow who warned hopefuls two weeks ago: “You get no second chance.”
* Holly Willoughby crying at the sight of a tissue on Surprise Surprise, compounded by her tacky plugs for the tour operators donating dream holidays. In the words of 2008 British Comedy Awards host Angus Deayton: “They know who they are. I won’t embarrass them by naming them publicly.”
* And Mastermind’s specialist subjects comprising Charles M Schulz, Harold Larwood, Frederick the Great of Prussia and Abba, which is an insult to this TV quiz bedrock.
Frederick the Great of Prussia is a complete doddle.
SINITTA on This Morning discussing her split from ex-boyfriend Simon Cowell: “I got to keep the puppies.”
Yes, Sinitta. I’m all too aware.
That palm-leaf dress is burned into the memory.
THIS week’s Most Brutally Honest TV Critique award goes to...
The continuity man introducing alleged sitcom Father Figure: “Now on BBC1, Jason Byrne is a one-man disaster area.”