What do you do once you’ve taken the reality television genre by storm, morphing from rich little stuck-up girls with nothing better to do, into TV land’s most recognisable fashion trouble-shooters?
Elementary, dear readers. You make a mockumentary about yourself, liberally sprinkle it with real actors to make up for your own lack of talent, release it on the internet and sit back confidently to wait for the TV networks to start calling.
And that’s what is almost certain to happen with What Trinny and Susannah Did Next, the latest initiative from the fashion police double act who pioneered makeover television, first with What Not To Wear, and then with Trinny and Susannah Undress and Trinny and Susannah Undress The Nation.
Now playing on demand at a computer near you, What They Did Next cleverly exploits the slightly hammed-up characters of Trinny and Susannah in a spoof of their life after reality television, in what will almost certainly attract the attention of the major TV networks.
Available to be accessed at “trinnyandsusannahwhattheydidnext.com”, the mockumentary borrows themes from shows such as The Office and Absolutely Fabulous in a production that flawlessly streams 16, six minute-long “webisodes” on a broadband connection.
In What They Did Next, Trinny and Susannah send themselves up as former television stars living in the lap of luxury but struggling for relevance, and almost utterly dependent on their “nanny” Gemma for day-to-day guidance. Hence the Ab-Fab parallel.
Their trials and tribulations are frequently interrupted by mock interviews with the supporting cast, including the pair’s former agent Leonard, who has washed his hands of their affairs, the new and gormless agent Toby, the editor of GQ magazine; even Lulu – who extols the virtues of magic knickers.
Trinny and Susannah’s acting is passable, although you could hardly call it acting – they effectively play themselves to a slightly exaggerated degree.
The script is partly ad-libbed, some members of the pubic are unaware of their role, and at times not even Trinny or Susannah are told in advance who’s acting and who’s not, leading to some hilarious double-takes.
There’s a lot more profanity too, although it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the two stars swear like troopers. In the first episode they turn the air blue during a restaurant scene after hearing of not only a contract rejection but the intended departure of their long-serving manager.
Why the internet? “It just gave us all this freedom we’d never had before, the freedom to make our own show” said Trinny, during an interview with the Guardian. “The lines between reality and fiction are so blurred. We felt the freedom to be ourselves, but to go over the top.”
What Trinny and Susannah Did Next is a show that works, not least because it lampoons Trinny and Susannah’s supercilious airs and takes the mickey out of the very suggestion that fashion is somehow extremely important; in short the antithesis of the message promoted in their reality show.
Only question is, I wonder which message they really believe?