Julie Burchill

Who doesn’t love a good catfight?

I’ll never trust a woman who isn’t up for a brawl

  • From Spectator Life
Joan Collins and Linda Evans having it out in a pond in Dynasty (Alamy)

Was I the only person who felt a flash of disappointment when a source said of the imminent Girls Aloud re-union that ‘No one wants it to be a catfight’? Obvs I don’t just want a catfight – they’re the best girl group ever, so they are artists and women of substance. But just a bit of a catfight, maybe?

I’ve had a soft spot for catfights since I was a child; I saw loads at the rough comprehensive school I attended between the older girls – they’d always take their earrings out first and hand them to their best friend to hold, which I found unspeakably glamorous. One of the few disappointments of having been so upwardly mobile during one’s long and lush life is that one never got to see such scraps at one’s watering holes of choice. The idea that me and Dawn French (we loathe each other) might have thrown our dirty martinis in each other’s faces before embarking on a quick but thorough bout of hair-pulling and wrist-twisting during the halcyon days of the Groucho Club is an unlikely (if rather appealing) one.

All that gasping and groaning and rolling around on the floor – it was a Sapphic sex substitute for the saddos

It’s been decades since I saw a real life cat-spat, but the big and small screens alike have given us a good selection, from George Cukor’s The Women (1939), which saw Paulette Goddard and Rosalind Russell having a right royal dust-up, to Joan Collins and Linda Evans involuntary dip in the Dynasty duck-pond. During the glitzy soap’s run from 1981 to 1989, catfights became a regular occurrence, often fully clothed in water for extra sleaze appeal, though Collins and Evans also performed them dressed as Elizabeth I and Henry VIII, in an artist’s studio, at a couture house and while rolling down a ravine.

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