Anonymous. Stephen Mulhern. Copyright: Tiger Aspect Productions.

Anonymous

Press Clippings

The dead-fly garnish on this week's bucket of swill was Anonymous, the new celebrity prank-show on ITV1.

"What happens when celebrities want a day off?" the introduction ran - to the immediate, incredulous answer from the viewer, "Take the day off?"

But this was not the full question Anonymous was asking. The full inquiry was, "What happens when celebrities want a day off - and cause havoc with dozens of cameras, ingeniously hidden from view?"

Well then, in that case, the answer is obviously, "Fill up 45 minutes of prime-time on a Saturday night and, technically, not really have a day off at all."

The "killer" idea of Anonymous is that it gives celebrities "the biggest makeover - a new face". Thanks to a much-mentioned "five hours in prosthetics", Fiz from Coronation Street got rigged up as a blonde Essex girl, the X Factor judge Louis Walsh got disguised as an old man, and the former rugby player Matt Dawson was transformed into a camp West End choreographer. Thus disguised, the celebrities then pranked their celebrity friends - usually by behaving with intolerable wackiness, while their friends acted with bemused good grace.

The essential problem with Anonymous - and it became obvious in minutes - was the disguises themselves. While the stars certainly weren't recognisable as themselves, they also weren't necessarily recognisable as normal human beings, either. Frankly, those prosthetics were poor. Fiz's chin looked like it was constructed of three pieces of pre-sliced turkey breast. Matt Dawson's face had the alarming unyieldingness of a Bakelite death mask and Louis Walsh looked like a statue of Freddie Boswell from Bread, as sculpted by the blind woman in the video to Hello. Even in a post-Simon Weston world, you would momentarily break stride on sighting them in the street. And in every single prank, the victims commented on how alarmingly awful the prankers' prosthetics were.

"As soon as I saw him, I thought, 'He's had loads of plastic surgery,'" Austin Healey said of Dawson's wonky-Spam head.

"I just thought you'd had really bad plastic surgery!" Fiz's Corrie colleague Michelle Keegan howled at Fiz, who looked like Nikki Chapman wearing Craig David's Bo' Selecta! chin.

You do have to wonder if the muchvaunted Anonymous "Four hours in prosthetics!" is strictly necessary. After all, Jeremy Beadle regularly managed to get people's houses knocked down while wearing disguises no more audacious than "a hat".

Caitlin Moran, The Times, 25th July 2009

Radio Times Preview

The mere prospect of Anonymous on ITV1 on Saturday makes me want to take out my own eyes, poach them on a low heat, cover them in Tabasco sauce and pop them back in again.

Alison Graham, Radio Times, 16th July 2009

Walsh is up to his old tricks

A news report about the filming of the show, including a quote from a source which suggests Austin Healey had a sense of humour failure when Matt Dawson attempted to prank him.

Sara Nathan, The Sun, 23rd May 2009