Who needs Jordan Peterson when we have Loose Women?
The usual vicious display of white-wine emotions closed in on Kim Woodburn (76) this week
Knives out: Linda Nolan. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire
There has always been a sinister undercurrent to Loose Women. The show may be disguised as light magazine-chat mid-morning fare where Diet Coke ads are dissected and a young X Factor contestant is thoroughly embarrassed by the nudging panel of would-be aunts but beneath the over-familiar bonhomie lies a heart of darkness. It promotes itself as sisterhood television, relatable conversations with approachable celebrities wrapped up in a sugar-pink bow on top of a “tempting” cupcake. In reality it has more questionable ideas about women than the average Jordan Peterson fan. Like a live reading of the murkier corners of the Mumsnet message board it feeds on fear, moral panic and tawdry sensationalism. Loose Women may be the only show that hates itself more than its critics do.
Recently they’ve tried a different approach, appealing to a younger demographic by adding the effervescent, adorable Stacey Solomon and the down-to-earth Vicky Pattison into the mix among the old guard. As welcome as this new blood is, unfortunately the main panellists (who include the likes of Coleen Nolan and Linda Robson) still act like territorial regulars that would attempt to glass you if you accidentally perched in their spot in the local. They routinely stoke the ire of guests like bored civil servants reigniting old feuds at the Christmas party for kicks. There’s a vicious atmosphere to the show, a knife-edge of white-wine emotions that permeates the studio, where side-eye reigns supreme.
An ageing soap actor may be there to promote his latest theatre appearance but will be entrapped, a film of sweat collecting on his brow as Jane McDonald quizzes him for his opinions on designer vaginas, knowing his answer will trend on Twitter for the next hour or become the Daily Mail’s latest splash.
With their knee-jerk reactions and half-baked opinions it’s now devolved entirely into an echo chamber of embarrassing ignorance. Who can resist Martine McCutcheon calling for medieval torture to be brought back or Dorian from Birds of a Feather expounding her theories on the Madeleine McCann case – luckily you’re never far from someone who used to be in Emmerdale comparing primary schooling or EU rulings to the Nazi regime.
This week, in an obvious end of summer slump, an unstable Kim Woodburn was invited on the show to be publicly humiliated by two of the Nolan sisters in front of a baying audience under the guise of ending an argument from their time taking part in Celebrity Big Brother. It was a breathtakingly cruel display, with 76-year-old Woodburn eventually reduced to tears as she was ambushed by the sniping sisters. For a show that prides itself on its frank discussions about mental health issues, this week’s controversy proves it’s all talk and empty rhetoric from those loose-lipped ladies.