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Going South: The day I got collagen live on TV

May 12th 2012 / Imogen Edwards-Jones

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Imogen Edwards-Jones is middle-aged, not middle-of-the-road. This week: how she got a trout pout in order to appear on Nineties cult show The Word

In the beginning there was The Word. Not the Word of the Lord, you understand, but The Word on Channel 4 with Terry Christian and Amanda de Cadenet. One was a trendy scouser, with a plate of chips to go with his attitude; and the other was the pretty daughter of someone-who-used-to-do-something, who went on to marry a rock star and produce another pretty daughter of someone-who-used-to-do-something.

Anyway, in the days before I wrote books (Hotel Babylon and the like) and persisted in informing people that I was serious, despite my blonde hair (by way of John Frieda) and Wonderbra addiction - that I had A levels, and a degree, and everything - before all that, I was desperate to be on the telly. Very desperate. So desperate in fact that I not only did I agree to have my lips injected with collagen implants LIVE on The Word, but I would also happily snog Richard Fairbrass, the lead singer of Right Said Fred, to test-drive said lips afterwards.

Now, at the time, you have to remember that Right Said Fred were a band who’d principally claimed they were "too sexy for their shirts" and collagen was a rare and scary thing that, I think, perhaps only likes of Michelle Pfeiffer and a few other carp-lipped Hollywood lovelies had flirted with. There weren’t collagen parties, drop-in centres in Boots or needle-crazed beauticians around every suburban street corner. Collagen was new, it was risqué and I was a pioneer, damn it! Or at least that’s what I told my not so terribly proud mother.

In the end the whole thing caused a bit of stir. I remember wearing a Vivienne Westwood velvet bodice that had been sourced for me by fashion guru, Lisa Armstrong, from The Independent newspaper’s fashion cupboard and I also remember the discussion of whether the numbing lip-cream would work through the layers of lipgloss that Make-Up had slathered all over me. But no one really cared. Least of all me; I was desperate to be on the telly, I wasn’t going to say a thing.

So there I was, poured into a bodice, gripping on to the leather arms of a hip TV chair, giving all women a living, breathing example of that age-old adage "beauty hurts". Actually, it does more than that. It bloody kills. But if you are on live TV, you’ve got to grin and bear it and then, while your lips are still bleeding and all you want to do is running howling from the studio, you kiss a man you’ve never met in the name of science.

Apparently people complained in their droves. Not about my pain and agony, but that we might have been complicit in the spread of AIDS – which was a very hot topic at the time.

And the upshot of all this? I had a trout pout for about three months that I liked to chew the corners of in moments of abject boredom. I was eventually offered a job as a presenter on The Word, which in the name of dignity and all things sane I turned down. The Word invented a new strand to the show called Wannabes, which was needless to say about people who’d do anything to get on TV. And instead of developing a phobia of all things extreme in the world of beauty, I have become rather obsessed.

Having crossed the Rubicon at such an early age, I realise I am now up for anything. And as I creep further and further the wrong side of 40, my interests are widening. Botox? Fillers? Lipo? An acid peel? Why the very hell not? They’re all a walk in the park compared with the first time.

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