Lynn Alleway is given exclusive assess to Kerry Katona’s home for her documentary, Kerry and Me. She begins by trying to sell the programme as a look at waning celebrity: “Kerry Katona is at rock bottom. The only stories the newspapers want are negative. What life is like as a celebrity when no-one wants you anymore.”
We’re treated to a rehash of Katona’s life for the last decade or so. Stuff that tabloid readers will already know by heart. Divorce from Brian McFadden, drink and drugs problems, horrible upbringing and that marriage to Mark Croft – a man universally reviled as a sponger and killer of Katona’s career. Or is that Katona’s Kareer?
I was expecting to see an insight into Katona that would bring on a degree of pity and empathy with her. But Alleway may be to Katona what Martin Bashir was to Michael Jackson.
Within minutes of starting, Kerry has admitted to Alleway that she’s planning to dump Mark Croft. She gives some reasons that seem plausible, given the various news reports about him bleeding her dry, etc. But then Kerry talks at length about the hurt and pain her mother caused when she deliberately sold stories to the tabloids.
Now, in a brazen display of hypocrisy, once Kerry has told Mark she wants to split up, she sneakily arranges to sell her story to the Sunday papers. For real. She slopes off to Tenerife with one of her children in tow, as Mark minds the others back home – oblivious to the fact that she’s stabbing him in the back!
Prior to all this, she claimed the break-up was because he was “holding her back”, and that she wanted a better life and he couldn’t deliver. Fair enough, you think – he’s a small-time guy trying to sell fruit machines in pubs on the promise of a personal appearance from Kerry.
If the documentary had been ordered in a different way, the hypocrisy would have been more pronounced: show the News Of The World drug sting that showed Katona snorting coke in her own bathroom. The betrayal of the tabloids and their hunger for negative stories about her. Then, oblivious to the fact that the divorce might be hurting her own kids, she runs to the papers who exposed her as a druggie and sells a story in the hopes of getting one positive article written about her. How do the tabloids repay her? With some choice follow-up claims that she’s been seeing another man.
From my point of view, this is an expose on the self-destructiveness of the fame addict. Katona wants press. Knows the paparazzi who camp outside her house by name (just like Britney Spears). Even her kids can identify the photographers who live beyond their front garden. Without a thought for her children’s’ well-being sells a story on what might be the biggest trauma of their childhoods. And yet will talk at length about her horrific upbringing.
What I saw tonight was a woman who couldn’t describe her career. What do you do for a living, Kerry? Er…publicity. She needs fame, clings to fame. Working the checkout as Iceland is beneath her somehow, but she’d be happy to advertise their vol-au-vents. If they ever gave her her job back. And she’s never read her own biography. She needs her ‘life coaches‘ to read it to her.
Croft is no better, but surprisingly good at working with the camera. He’s forthcoming about what’s going on, up to a point. But no sooner has he left the marital home, but he’s sold his own story. This is what you do in bizarro world, you sell your side of the story to the gossip rags.
There are disturbing scenes and heartbreaking scenes. There’s an odd little piece, just before Katona visits her mother, when Katona is filmed in a street talking to two guys in a car. She exposes her belly to them and one guy reaches out the window to touch it. Then the two get out of the car and Kerry shouts over to Alleway and tells her to stop filming. What was that about? No idea. But it was strange.
Watching the Katona/Croft household in the wake of the separation is sad. The kids are obviously hurt, their parents tense and irritable. For a former Mother Of The Year (yes, they really need to vet those parent of the year awards more thoroughly), what worries me is what we didn’t see on camera. Seriously. Most people watch their behaviour on programmes for broadcast. If she rambles to her kids “You think you have problems…?” on camera, what’s being missed here?
Don’t get me started on Brian McFadden though. There’s a Father Of The Year right there. He’ll ignite one of those “I’m going for custody” stories until the scandal dies down, then it’ll be back to the status quo. One day those kids will see all this footage and wonder why their father didn’t step in. Didn’t he care enough to do something about leaving them with a woman whose first priority is getting in the newspapers?
There’s a horrible little postscript to the documentary – Katona signs up with celebrity manager Claire Powell best known for being the mastermind behind Peter Andre and Jordan’s career revivals. It’s around this point that Katona distances herself from Alleway and sends her a text message to the effect that “You no longer form part of my future plans.”
And if you don’t believe that, Katona cuts off all contact with the producer. So Alleway turns up at her house and is given an excuse (she’ll be on the phone with Claire for an hour. An hour?) Alleway hangs around outside until Katona comes out – Katona shouts at her about turning up unannounced, a big difference from the benevolent “Welcome to my home” she got at the start and drives off.
Oh, and this is how she treats a woman – a documentary producer she barely knew – who she was happy to leave at home alone with her youngest child. I don’t know whether Alleway set out to produce a negative piece on Katona, or being shunned swung the editorial in that direction, but I came away feeling that someone needs to intervene with Kerry, stop this dysfunctional relationship with the tabloids and force her to focus on her life after fame.