Joan Collins

Christmas in L.A. | 14 December 2009

When my daughter Katyana was eight years old she fell into a coma in hospital.

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When my daughter Katyana was eight years old she fell into a coma in hospital. I would not allow any of the medical staff around her to talk about her condition in a negative fashion. I was convinced that she was able to comprehend what was being discussed around her bedside and that it would somehow affect her recovery. The doctors, interns and nurses all believed I was a raging nutter and I would hear them tut-tutting as they backed away, whispering how sad it was that my daughter didn’t have much of a chance of recovering. Seven weeks later, much to all the medicos’ amazement, Katy started to open her eyes and react to the world around her.

Reading about Rom Houben this week, who has just recovered from a coma after 20 years, I felt quite vindicated when he came back to consciousness and told the world that he had heard everything that was said around him and understood it too, but had been frustratingly unable to communicate.

Katy was thankfully fully restored to good health thanks to her own indomitable spirit, but I believe that my bedside vigil in which I constantly assured her she would get better (and I wouldn’t let the staff say otherwise) contributed to her complete recovery.

Houben’s doctors used a range of coma tests, which concluded that his consciousness was ‘extinct’ and that he was totally unaware of anything around him. Like me with Katy, Rom’s mother refused to believe this and her being proved right is a great beacon of hope for all those who have suffered brain injuries. Rom Houben’s recovery taught a sharp lesson to those who treat coma patients as if there is no tomorrow.

The producers of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! must be complete sadists. The disgusting ‘bush-tucker trials’ the contestants have to participate in have become more and more stomach-churningly dangerous. When the series first began in 2002 I watched because I had friends on the show. Although there were creepy crawlies to contend with they didn’t begin to approach the ghastliness of the crocodile anus, kangaroo testicles and poisoned rodent that the hapless celebs are now forced to either munch upon or be buried under.

When Christopher Biggins did IACGMOH! (or as my husband calls it, OHMIGOD!) in 2007 he was hilarious and lovable, but then he’s one of a kind and has happily gone on to bigger and better things. Other than George Hamilton and Katie Price I had not heard of any other current contestants. Although the great British public sent her to be the fall guy in the trials over and over again I believe that three times was enough already and the producers should have given the poor creature a break and insisted another ‘sleb’ submit to the indignities. I don’t blame her for quitting as I found it boring to watch the same person being tortured night after night.

It’s probably only a matter of time before these odious and gratuitously revolting reality freak shows, which pander to the voyeurs who would enjoy watching the Christians being thrown to the lions (or in the case of Jordan, the lion thrown to the Christians), are buried themselves in the TV graveyard. Their demise will surely be hastened when someone participating becomes seriously injured or even snuffs it.

In August this year, Saad Khan died while performing a challenge on a Pakistani reality show filmed in Bangkok. Swimming across a lake wearing a heavy backpack, he suddenly disappeared underwater, leaving horrified contestants and emergency crews fighting to find him in the murky depths. Three months earlier a contestant in the Bulgarian version of Survivor died following a heart attack during filming in the Philippines. I wonder how many of the callous viewers cheered when these tragedies occurred? It wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

I never thought I would enjoy The X Factor as much as I did when we took our 11-year-old granddaughter, Miel, to the live show at Wembley. Receiving a round of applause from the audience when walking into the auditorium was rather an ego booster, and the excitement from the incredibly enthusiastic audience during the show was so infectious that I found myself standing and cheering with the rest of them. It’s a cleverly produced, beautifully executed, entertaining show and well deserves its immense popularity. Miel became quite popular herself at school the following week when she showed her friends backstage photos of herself with some of the contestants and judges, all of whom were incredibly groomed and glamorous — even the men!

I’m happy to report that my Joan Does Glamour special (on ITV as well) was received really well, and hopefully provided a break from bush-tuckers and whackers. I’m now in discussions to bring it to America. But having caught a glimpse of Mrs & Miss ‘America’ waddling around in Lycra shorts in Las Vegas — boy, do I have my work cut out for me!

My dear friend Tessa Kennedy has been sadly hospitalised in LA with a broken leg. She fell down two, yes only two steps, yet her leg shattered in 11 places and had to be pieced together with the same number of metal pins. However, with characteristic British stiff upper lip, of the kind we rarely see nowadays, she bravely and stoically bore the weight of being in a state-of-the-art LA hospital room with hot and cold running staff catering to her every whim and fancy and treating her like a queen — what a gal. I visited her a few times to play Scrabble and I was astounded at the level of service. Next time I want a spa weekend, I might just check myself into that hospital instead.

I have several girlfriends in Los Angeles limping around, having slipped on their stilettos and shattered various tiny foot bones. This is great news for my fabulous foot doctor in New York, Dr Rock Positano, who is delighted that ladies’ shoe designers are creating even more ludicrously high and ridiculous styles for the deluded fashionista victim to fall off. How grown women can force their feet into the torturous contraptions — as ergonomic as they may be — beats me. However, Tessa was barefoot when she fell, so rest easy, Manolo and Jimmy, that’s one less lawsuit.

Christmas in St Tropez looks like it’s going to be a bit bleak, even though a few skimpy decorations wave forlornly among the windswept palm trees. So it’s off to sunny California for us, where political correctness insists on ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’. Ah, well, they are also disregarding the credit crunch and charging massively on credit cards — might as well be consistent the world over!