Publication: North West Telegraph
Date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Ahead of his BBC NI documentary tonight, broadcaster Gerry Anderson tells why hair loss has driven some men, including his actor pal Jimmy Nesbit, to some extraordinary measures
Nothing is more certain to strike terror into the heart of a man in his early 20s than the creeping realisation that he may be losing his hair.
Those early signs – the over-populated hair brush, the blocked shower drain, many lonely strands clinging to the sides of the bath – all point to the sinister inevitability of a you life blighted by a thinning barnet. Think of what our victim imagines this fater entails.
He is certain that women will no longer fancy him. He senses that his friends may silently snigger and point when his back is turned.
In addition, he will eventually learn that only those with luxurious thatches will loudly point out that his is wearing thin (those in the same baldy boat always keep schtum).
He will therefore quickly learn about the quintessential cruelty of man. This is because we are somehow conditioned to believe that balding makes us less of a man.
How this ever came about no one is sure. I blame Samson myself.
I know that cutting hair off isn’t the same thing as balding but somehow the thought that a man is rendered weak because he has less hair seems to spring from that particular source. Samson was first balded, then blinded. He probably figured the first was worst.
But if that newly-thinning young man is reading this, let him take comfort in the news that he can now do something about his receding hairline, something that will definitely work.
There was a time (and I speak of no more than a decade ago) when a balding man with all the money in the world couldn’t get his hair back (wigs don’t count, as will be discussed later).
I give you Elton John. Nobody had more money thatn he and nobody looked more stupid as he laboured and sweated under a wide variety of ever-elaborate solutions, all abusmal failures.
Then, as you do, he had a baby and gave up. But now look around you. Look at Jimmy Nesbitt, Louis Walsh, Rob Brydon and everybody who’s ever been on a television judging panel. A hundred others. Transplanted to a man. All ace barnets miraculously sprouted in areas that were fallow before.
There are other names that would astound you but my lips must necessarily remain sealed.
I was in St Eugene’s Cathedral choir in Stroke City when I was a boy and one of our greatest pleasures was staring down at the congregation from the lofty choir eyrie in a bid to ascertain which of us could spot the most wigs. I once counted eight definites, two probables and a solitary possible.
And this is Derry/Londonderry, not exactly the most affluent place in the world. But we had wigs, cheap wigs, and vain, fearless men who wore them. These cheap hairpieces weren’t difficult to spot. For a start, they were usually not the same colour as the hair that could be spotted lurking down a carelessly protruding sideburn, and secondly, the hair stuck straight out at the back of the collar, like a duck’s arse.
And I am sure that those men fell into the trap that awaits the wearers of wigs, a trap into which they usually plunge – the trap that enables them to believe that nobody notices.
I write this to prepare the way for the news that bald men need never be bald again, provided they have a shekel or two to spare.
I have seen the future and it is the hair transplant. The fruit of my labours can be seen in a documentary on BBC1 NI tonight.
It’s called ‘Gerry Anderson’s Losing It’ and it is necessarily autobiographical.
In a bold quest for the hirsute truth, I have travelled extensively in America, to New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and sundry points in between, to talk to the world’s greatest authorities on hair replacement procedures and research.
My eyes were opened and my follicles were often rattled. Americans, of course, God love them, always take things a step further.
The oddest solution was in Los Angeles where a gentleman and his many cohorts eke out a tidy living by tattooing the heads of bald men. To what possible end, I hear some of you aask.
Well, now we’re getting down to something entirely different. It seems that, in Los Angeles, men will pay $5,000 a pop to have their heads tattooed to look as if they have the equivalent of a 5 o’clock shadow on their skulls.
They wish to convey the impression that they could grow a full head of hair if they so desired but have shaved it off because they couldn’t be bothered grooming or looking after it. I met a few of these men in the salon. They are strange people.
I thought, this could pass for a bouncer factory.
In New York, I met ~Joseph Paris (probably not his real name) who, for decades, made and looked after Frank Sinatra’s wigs at home and on tour.
He proudly showed me a cabinet containing eight of Frank’s wigs worn at different stages in the singer’s life.
They grey gradually to a dull white. It looked to me like a display of senior citizen scalps, or, alternatively, a family of culled badgers.
As I write this, I have by my side, a Laser Cap, $5,000 worth of jiggery-pokery that is basically a laser light system that can be concealed under a baseball cap, the wearer’s skull being covertly bombarded by rays as he goes about his daily business.
This allegedly halts hair loss but cannot restore. It also gifts the wearer a very hot head. I also talked to a man who will give me hair by setting a robot on me. I wisely passed. I talked to another scientist who is doing sterling work with bald mice. And so it goes on.
The most plausible hair transplant man I could find was discovered on our own doorstep. Dr Maurice Collins runs Hair Restoration Blackrock in Dublin, a state-of-the-art facility that has catered for the needs of Jimmy Nesbitt (who gamely appears in the programme) and most of the names mentioned above.
He has gravitas and quiet charm of a man who knows what he’s doing. If you want to find out what exactly it is he does, watch the programme.
Those who know me will be aware that I have been gently thinning for years and, indeed, that is why I involved myself in this documentary, put together by our best film-maker, the award winning Alison Millar who runs television production company Erica Starling.
I embarked on the film with the notion that I might even have a crack at a hair transplant myself if I thought that it would be a step forward (or backwards, if you like) I found out that the procedure does indeed work in the right hands.
And did I have a hair transplant? You’ll have to watch the programme to find out…