Mark Dolan first arrived in the public eye on the Richard Taylor Interviews – a slightly amusing Channel 4 comedy stunt show in which he posed as the MD of a fictional company, then put hopeful interview candidates through a gruelling process of humiliating tasks. It was designed, I think, to prove that management speak was a load of guff – featuring footage of these upstarts in the days before The Apprentice discussing just how 110% they are, followed by the satisfying sight of yet another young pretender to the corporate throne making a right royal tit of themselves in the desperate hope of landing a £30k management team leader ‘role’.
So, a decent start to his TV career. But then things started to descend – as anyone who’s seen Balls of Steel will attest. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to do anything other than mention the title and remind folk that it was Dolan who gleefully presented it to get your gag-reflexes swinging.
After that, a stint sitting beside Nick Ferrari in the LBC studio, a punishment in itself, one would imagine. And now he bafflingly finds himself involved in an hour of good-slot Channel 4 TV every week. Without googling or scanning Wikipedia, one suspects Dolan has worked in production or commissioning before, so pitching himself a new show is as simple as telling Channel 4 what hours he can work. Otherwise there’s no way someone so monumentally untalented – either in front of the camera or coming up with concepts behind it – would get this much work. Otherwise there is simply no justice in the world.
This latest outing has been criticised by critics as a tasteless neo-freakshow and coming at it with fresh eyes, having not seen any of the last series, you can see exactly why. In The Most Enhanced Woman In The World, Dolan travels to America (where else?) to track down women who cater to the ‘big boob’ fetish. A dying breed (in some cases literally) since their wobbly bosomed heyday in the decadent 90s.
Dolan doesn’t say why he wants to meet ridiculously augmented women and he neglects to add a Louis Theroux style disclaimer at the start explaining that he’d like to know what these people are all about. He simply dives in there, like an over-enthusiastic public schoolboy, intent on fulfilling his pointless mission. Without any context for the brief, we’re left with a lanky moron going on a jolly to poke fun at the spiritually bereft.
First he meets a big-boobed blonde who, since the softcore work dried up, recently made the move into hardcore. Her silent (and much younger) husband retrieves two implants from a carrier bag that she no longer fastens to herself because they’re too big and they leak – with the potential for the silicon to enter brain cells and the bloodstream, causing paralysis, brain damage and death. Despite her life choices, this one was quite aware of the inherent tragedy of her surgery. Without any suffering to poke his pointy stick at, Dolan cruised off to find something a little more perverse for the camera.
And he found it. Minka was, once upon a time, an adequately proportioned South Korean lady, doing normal things – like playing tennis and working in a mundane job, all the while with a normal set of dumplings – until Woody entered her country and her life. Woody swept her off her feet and dragged her to America where he persuaded her to stick implants the size of space-hoppers up her armpits so they could make millions of dollars.
Their household, as far as we could tell, was a loveless void where the big-boob obsessive kept his disfigured missus for two reasons. Firstly, so that he could live with a grotesquely adorned doll (that’s what she had become – all trace of personality wiped) and secondly so he could make money out of it. Dolan made steps towards obtaining an understanding of Minka, but so superficially that he needn’t have bothered. It was left to the viewer to use the scantest of evidence to piece together how this relationship worked. The devil is in the detail – owning seven small dogs might demonstrate that Minka is lonely, for example – but rather than go searching for more of this kind of stuff, Dolan just snorted and singgered his way through before committing the ultimate documentary-making sin.
The ‘judgement piece to camera’, where the presenter addresses the audience (or the cameraman), is a major mistake in this sort of television. Especially when the presenter judges the subject and offers his opinion. Notice how Theroux only talks to camera if he’s telling the cameraman to get out of the way, of if totally necessary to give a sense of time and place. Nick Broomfield also avoids it at all costs. This is why they get awards. They’re aware of what documentary actually is. Dolan, however, treats his audience with contempt and attempts to tell us what’s going on despite the fact we already know, and think he’s an arse for not being able to cope with it properly.
Finally, Dolan visits Brazil where Shayla was going for the world record in terms of the size of her waps. Shayla was immediately a sympathetic character, and Dolan initially appeared to make a connection. We were witness to tears and insecurity which came to a head in a scene on a beach, were Shayla admitted she had self-esteem issues due to a lost love, and then a shopping mall scene wherein Shayla hoovered up the curiosity of onlookers, mistaking it for love. There was a lot here that could have been said about the culture of celebrity. With a few more questions along those lines, we’d have got to the heart of Shayla. But Dolan couldn’t be arsed. He was too busy watching her balance her boobs on the table so she could take the weight off her spine.
When Shayla went for her record-breaking augmentation, instead of asking pertinent questions, Dolan stood like a spare prick at a wedding doing bugger all. He appeared to have lost all emotion in the face of truly troubling subject matter. It was obvious that he was in too deep and, without the charm, charisma of presence of mind to deal with it, what could have been quite a startling piece of insightful TV turned into the absolute opposite. Freakshow TV where the host becomes even freakier than his subjects by virtue of his ignorance.
The final piece to camera did nothing to rescue this nasty slice of nothingness. Dolan simply bailed, with words to the effect of ‘I’ve met the most enhanced woman in the world, and I wish I hadn’t’.
He’s all heart.