Oh dear. Lily Allen is to make a cameo appearance in Neighbours. This is the most ill-advised plot development since that episode where Harold took crystal meth and shot Lou in the throat with a crossbow (or did I dream that?).
You can see why Neighbours chiefs might be keen to inject a little edginess. This is, after all, a show whose main characters are still the cobwebbed likes of Karl and Susan Kennedy, fifteen years after most of us gave up watching. Christ, even Stefan Dennis is still in it, and he’s 83 years old.
But there are surely better ways of bringing the long-running soap up to date. Casting Jack Penate in the Toadfish role, say, or broadcasting the entire show as an iPhone app.
There is, however, an underlying reason why Lily’s appearance is destined to be cringeworthy in the extreme, and it’s this: soap-operas traditionally suck up to pop stars something rotten.
‘Extras’ showed it was possible to humiliate celebrities for comic gain, but somehow soaps never got the memo. Hence we get simpering, sycophantic guest spots such as
Victoria Beckham in Ugly Betty or Chrissy Hynde singing Smelly Cat in Friends.
In these cases, pop stars purport to be self-deprecating and game-for-a-laugh – but the script is always slanted so as to express program-makers’ pathetic gratitude at being graced with their megawatt star-power.
Even Morrissey, who you might expect to inject a little self-effacing wit, essentially sat back and soaked up Tracy Corkhill’s star-struck awe when he appeared on ‘Brookside’ spin-off ‘South’ in 1988.
Indeed, the only pop star cameos that don’t make you want to hurl bricks at the screen are the ones with a touch of the surreal. Leonard Cohen in Miami Vice, for example. The gloomy singer-songwriter played Francois Zolan, a soave, French-speaking Interpol chief – having presumably been turned down for his preferred role, that of a zany, screwball physical comedian.
And then there’s Boy George in The A-Team, possibly the only thing in his CV more humiliating than donning a fluorescent tabard and sweeping the streets of New York:
But which pop star TV cameos would you like to see in future? Alice Glass in Emmerdale? Frank Carter in Hollyoaks? La Roux starring alongside her mum in The Bill..?