Faded TV star Gloria Grayson has hit rock bottom. Sacked from her starring role in a top soap, divorced from hell-raising actor ‘Mad’ Tommy Mack, and obese from binge eating, her days as Britain’s sexiest blonde are well and truly over.
Gloria has gained 70 lbs when a paparazzi snaps unflattering photos and a cruel tabloid article re-launches her career. Instantly she and her fat, feisty dog Baby-Girl are booked for TV’s Reality Rehab.
Gloria is locked up with an American psychotherapist, a rabble of D-list celebrities and umpteen cameras, then put on a starvation diet. But worse is to come, with the shock arrival of her alcoholic ex-husband.
Tears and tantrums ensue as the divorced couple’s joint therapy sessions take over the show and ratings soar. The other celebrities are infuriated to be side-lined and Reality Rehab fast becomes the Tommy and Glo Show. But Gloria and Tommy are hiding explosive secrets from each other and 10 million viewers.
They say, ‘Write what you know’ and author Lisa Mary London has certainly done that with her hilarious debut novel Reality Rehab, a satire on reality TV and modern celebrity. Lisa knows her subject inside out, as a former TV producer on shows including ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!’
Reality Rehab tells the story of soap legend Gloria Grayson, whose life and career hit the skids when she becomes obese from binge eating. Her salvation is a reality TV show which promises to restore her A-list status (and her ‘Rear of the Year’ title). Gloria endures a starvation diet – and worse – under the scrutiny of umpteen hidden cameras. Reality is stranger than fiction!
As Reality Rehab launches nationwide, Lisa answers some outrageous quick-fire questions.
Low Fat or Full Fat?
Like Reality Rehab’s heroine, buxom soap star Gloria Grayson, I love to eat and believe life’s too short to spread butter thinly. Food is to be enjoyed – remember, there were passengers on the Titanic who waved away the dessert trolley!
Hollywood’s original blonde bombshell Mae West had a lot in common with my book’s protagonist Gloria. Mae believed in the beautifying power of calories and ate her favourite ice cream sundaes every day of the year. Her generous curves didn’t deter men – she had young, handsome boyfriends right ‘til she sashayed off the planet in a satin negligee aged 87. Atta girl!
Lips or Eyes?
Both. There’s some ludicrous rule about only making up your eyes or lips but not both, to which I respectfully say, BS! I proudly wear more make up than Marilyn (that’s Marilyn Manson, not Monroe). Where cosmetics are concerned I follow the universal law of chocolate and chips – More Is More!
The Jeremy Kyle Show or Loose Women?
I know from personal experience that male TV hosts can be a conceited bunch. My character Dr Lucien Douglas, the American psychotherapist who hosts TV’s Reality Rehab, is that kind of man. Dr Lucien’s terribly vain and there are whispers of cosmetic surgery, make-up, and a clause in his TV contracts that insists he’s only ever filmed from the left because he believes it’s his best side. I’m often asked if I based Dr Lucien on a real celebrity of my acquaintance. I couldn’t possibly comment, though I was once a producer on an ITV celebrity talk show hosted by Jerry Springer – ‘nuff said!
I confess I’m not a fan of Jeremy Kyle, or as I prefer to call him ‘The Pound Shop Jeremy Paxman’. I guess I should declare an interest here, as my beloved pooch Dolly-Dog and I were once guests on Loose Women. She married Sherrie Hewson’s Westie Charlie, in a ceremony officiated by actor John Barrowman (dressed as a vicar, naturally).
You can find Dolly’s wedding on You Tube, she’s wearing a beautiful Harrods bridal gown and I’ve got ridiculous waist-length hair extensions that make me look like a geriatric gonk. Thank God, they didn’t film us in the green room after the show – the groom made an unwarranted approach to the bride’s rear end, and he awoke to find her hanging from his throat like a furry pendant.
City or Country?
The city, every time. The countryside’s only ever romantic in fiction. In reality it’s a glamour-killing nightmare of biting insects, brambles, allergy-triggers and noxious aromas. If I want to ruin my hair, clothes and make-up and be exposed to filthy looks from passing cattle, I’ll take up dogging.
Ant or Dec?
I worked with Ant and Dec as a producer on ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!’ and liked them both, so it’s impossible to choose. People often get the boys’ names mixed up but I have a trick that helps me remember who’s who – Dec’s the one I’ve slept with… Just kidding!
Chocolate or Chips?
Both – I believe in a balanced diet.
Donald Trump or Donald Duck?
You saved the toughest question ‘til last! Well that’s tricky. One’s a flat-footed, bird-brained buffoon, whose explosive temper is matched by an overweening confidence in his own abilities, and the other is a cartoon character. Tough call, but I know who I’d rather see in the White House!
About the author
Lisa Mary London went from chief reporter on a sleepy Cotswold newspaper to become celebrity producer on some of Britain’s best-loved TV shows. Her TV credits include An Audience with Ken Dodd, A BAFTA Tribute to Julie Walters, The British Comedy Awards and I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! She’s worked with stars from Kirk Douglas to Ant and Dec, and her debut novel Reality Rehab features around 200 famous names. ‘There’s never a dull moment when you’re working with the stars,’ says Lisa. ‘One minute you’re sipping champagne with Pierce Brosnan, the next you’re standing in the Ladies’ minding Barbara Windsor’s handbag.’ Reality Rehab is based on her real life, behind-the-screen experiences as a celebrity producer. ‘I’ve met many old school stars like my book’s protagonist Gloria, who curse reality TV and think the cast of TOWIE should be stacking shelves at Tesco, not walking the red carpet. ‘She’s a cross between Diana Dors, Boadicea and Miss Piggy, a glorious, garrulous anti-heroine with bags of fattitude – Gloria puts the real in reality TV!’ Gloria’s petulant pooch Baby-Girl is closely based on the book’s cover star, Lisa’s beloved Maltese, Dolly-Dog (says Lisa – ‘You couldn’t make her up’). Dolly-Dog won fame on ITV’s Loose Women when she married Sherrie Hewson’s Westie Charlie, in a ceremony officiated by John Barrowman (available on YouTube). The couple split acrimoniously and are currently fighting for custody of a chew toy. A journalist by profession, Lisa has written for the Daily Mail and was briefly a News of the World reporter, but made her excuses and left before anyone was arrested for phone hacking.
Make sure to check out the rest of the tour for reviews, extracts and more Q & A’s