Archive for April, 2011

Helen Mirren Bares All

April 8th, 2011

On 5 April, the beautiful actress Helen Mirren was pictured in the Daily Telegraph. Dressed in a lime-green top and black skirt, a resigned expression on her face, she holds her arms aloft in a curious pose, exposing her statuesque profile to the camera.

Miss Mirren is well used to being photographed, with pleasing results. However, on this occasion she had been forced to submit to a ‘full-body scan’ by the security staff at Los Angeles International Airport, an outrageous indignity to have inflicted on one of our great tragediennes.

The scanners now in use at Los Angeles produce remarkably graphic, nude images of the subject, leaving nothing to the imagination. I have suggested in the past (see my blog of 13 January 2011)  that travellers be allowed, as an alternative, to wear ‘lycra’  body-suits, of the type worn by the ‘celebrity’ contestants on TV’s Bring on the Wall, for the duration of their journey. These outfits are extremely tight-fitting and do not allow for the concealment of any form of contraband.

Sadly, my suggestion has not been taken seriously, and full-body X-ray machines have since been installed at many US airports and at a few in Britain. Old people, children, the fat, the thin and the morbidly self-conscious are all prey to this hideous innovation.

My concern is that prurient airport staff, with every passing traveller at their mercy, may derive dubious gratification from the task. What reassurance is it to know that one’s picture will only be viewed by a person of one’s own sex? What if that person is homosexual, or indeed bisexual? Are we to believe that the images are routinely destroyed, or are the ‘fat or funny ones’ indeed pinned to the staff noticeboard, as suggested in tonight’s Now Show? Why is it acceptable, in this context only, to produce ‘indecent images’ of children?

If only the officials responsible had seen Miss Mirren in the National Theatre production of Phèdre – as I did in July 2009, when it was broadcast live to the Picture House at Henley and other selected cinemas, an absolutely unforgettable experience – they might have treated her more respectfully.

Read ‘Bring on the Wall!’ at