Here’s my latest column for Eastern Daily Press.
“There are very few people who can pull of a singlet unitard. It didn’t take me long to discover I wasn’t one of them.
It’s 2005 and I’m working in children’s TV when, as a result of extremely tight (almost as tight as the costume) budgets, I find myself cajoled into taking a break from writing scripts, to play a wrestler in a series of ‘hilarious’ skits. There I am in a huge blonde wig, thigh high boots and a leotard that leaves nothing to the imagination – strutting around a wrestling ring, against a much smaller opponent, prat-falling for laughs.
Dignity had well and truly left the building.
The thing is, as a kid, I’d loved WWF (as it was then) and WCW wrestling. These amazing pantomime-like events, with stars such as ‘The Undertaker’ and ‘Hulk Hogan’, were a TV staple during the late 80’s and early 90’s and I couldn’t get enough of them. I’d have sold my grandmother to be a ‘real life’ wrestler myself – sorry Gran!
Fast forward to 2005 and I find myself dressed in a ridiculous wrestling outfit, deliberately avoiding looking at my reflection in the dressing room mirror.
Somewhere in my heart of hearts I hoped that a miracle might have taken place when I changed into the outfit – transforming my podgy body into a Schwarzenegger-style physique – meaning I looked like the real deal, wrestling-wise. Perhaps this moment would be the first step to fulfilling my childhood dream of becoming a wrestling star?
It’ll be no surprise to you that no such miracle occurred. Far from looking like a pro, I looked like a prat. I had the appearance of someone who’d pulled the short straw when the fancy dress was handed out.
That’s life, I’d suppose.
I couldn’t help remembering my unsuccessful introduction to the wrestling ring when my other half put GLOW on the telly a few weeks ago. As I’ve stated here before, we’re box-setters. In the hour between our kids going to bed and our own trip to the land of nod, we gorge on Netflix TV series to unwind after very long days.
‘GLOW’ (the ‘Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling’) is a drama series, set in the 80’s, about a bunch of misfit female performers brought together to star in a low-rent cable TV wrestling show. If I’m honest, a programme about women learning to wrestle wouldn’t have been my first choice – viewing wise. At first I paid far more attention to my social media feed than I did to the TV screen, but, much to my surprise, with a suplex or two I was hooked!
After a glut of scandi-dramas, police-procedurals and period gangster fair, it’s so refreshing to watch a show all about a group of seeming no-hopers finding salvation in the most unlikely of places: the wrestling ring.
Glow brings all the fun and flair I remember from the OTT wrestling shows of my youth. The ring action, combined with behind-the-scenes intrigue and an amazing 1980’s soundtrack make an unmissable watch. It’s probably the campest show on TV, which, with the recent arrival of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, is really saying something.
What hits home for me, however, is the positive message of the show. Like me in that dressing room, over a decade ago, many of the GLOW wrestlers saw themselves in costume for the first time and didn’t like what they saw. Unlike me, they put any negativity to one side and got stuck in.
Which makes me think that maybe it’s not too late for me to take up a career in the wrestling ring? Anything’s possible.
Next time I put on the wig, boots and yellow unitard I won’t be playing it for laughs.
Not deliberately, anyway!”Chris McGuire, Eastern Daily Press