OK. I’ll admit it. When I read about Channel 4’s new feature Seven Dwarves in Heat Magazine, I audibly sniggered into my Frappuccino. What was I meant to do? I was faced with such immortal comments as, Max, 4 ft 2 inches:
Loves dubstep and can fit six Jaffa Cakes in his mouth
Whilst Karen, 4 ft 3 inches:
Has the nickname Mini Bum and was once mistaken for a Womble
Well of course, I did what any sane human being would do… I immediately forwarded on the comments to all of my mates via text and cleared my Tuesday night diary of any social events that didn’t involve seven small people on screen. Heigh-ho!
Now look, I may have a genuine fear of Oompa Loompas (and frogs, cottage cheese and bootcut jeans, if anyone’s asking) but that’s because those orange-faced characters from the original film version of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory were genuinely terrifying to children who liked sweets (me) and chocolate (me again), scarring us at a tender age.
But here’s my back story – I also have a shady past in booking dwarves for a customer party whilst working in Events for a luxury department store. No, really. In the words of my Manager at the time:
You just can’t go wrong with a dwarf, mate…
Fast forward, and whilst making my boss promise that I wouldn’t have to hold the dwarf’s hand whilst climbing any stairs (look,I was younger and immature back then… probably…), I learnt an important lesson that continued throughout watching Seven Dwarves. Our miniature hero got paid double the amount the supersized gaggle of models did for the accompanying fashion show, and for doing half the amount of work (at half the height). Exploitation? Well, I guess it depends whether you’re referring to us or them.
Whilst I approached Seven Dwarves with caution (still scarred by the grotesquely brilliant My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding – Channel 4’s previous attempt at documentary making), the film producers succeeded in showing us that whilst Max, Karen, Jamie, Craig, Josh and Ryan may be in Pantomime once a year, that some (note: some) have far higher aspirations the rest of the year. Except Josh Bennett, but he had a face only a mother could love. Sorry Josh.
Touchingly examining the relationship between a “normal sized” father and his dwarf son, to the tribal differences existing between dwarves and simply “small people” (who knew?), there were also asides to the prejudices existing within the group; whilst Max appeared hugely successful in his daytime job in Sales, the clear insinuation was that this was because his interaction with clients and customers was over the phone, thus masking his appearance.
On the flip side, Josh explained he hadn’t even auditioned for his role in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – it appeared he’d been hired purely for his height rather than acting ability. Which was akin to Geri Halliwell’s immortal appearance in Sex in the City. And only slightly smaller.
We’ll wait with baited breath for the next chapter in this Channel 4 ratings fairy tale. It’s interesting to note the opening episode was filmed as far back as December, so you have to wonder why they’ve only just started broadcasting the show – is the vehicle of seven petite personalities under one roof a contrived programming gesture to fill the void left by Big Brother? Thankfully, and already, these miniature heroes already each have more personality than previous Big Bro contestants combined. For Channel 4 and our viewing pleasure, it seems good things really do come in small packages.
Cue: men of Britain breathing a sigh of relief…