Dear Justin Trudeau, a beard will only make it look like something has gone wrong in your life


The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is making waves with his beard. For what it’s worth, I’m not wild about what he’s done. The very point of a beard is not to have to shave, but his arrangement plainly needs much care and attention. Pointless.

Once upon a time, when I was on television every day, I too made waves with a beard. I came back to The One Show after Christmas unshaven, and the producer of the programme that day suggested a thing be made of it. For as long as a month, we informed and entertained our audience on this theme. Was it a proper beard or wasn’t it? Did it look good or terrible? And so on. Eventually we and/or the audience got bored and the subject was dropped.

By now I was itching like a man on a fuzzy tree and couldn’t wait to get rid of the bloody thing. But then management told me it had to go, at which point I got very irritated and told them I’d be sticking with it, so there. This was a case of not cutting off my own beard to, quite literally, spite my face. It was agony and looked pretty terrible. Some people can look good in a beard but I’m not one of them. I just look as if something has gone wrong in my life. Eventually a compromise was reached and Lord Sugar paid 60 grand to Sport Relief to get it shaved off.

Only one good thing came of it. The confidently hirsute Christopher Howse reviewed the beard in the Sunday Telegraph. It wasn’t a favourable notice but he did acknowledge I had at least passed what he called the “Yasser Arafat stage”. I remain very proud of that to this day.