B-grade celebrities don't use ladders - they use Australia.

Mel B






It’s official.

Australian TV is now the place for fading celebrities to come for a career tune-up.

Mel B, Ronan Keating, Brian McFadden, Joel Madden, Seal, David Hasselhoff… All of these B/C/D grader international celebs have made the trip down under in an effort to bump themselves up a notch on the Super-star-dom alphabet.

Private Sydney columnist Andrew Hornery wrote about this phenomenon earlier this week, taking on the celebrities who have attempted a Down Under Career Make-Over. You can read his musings here.

But Andrew’s piece got me thinking – why here?


What is it about Australia that fills the eyes of not-quite-celebrities-anymore with the stars of years past? In a nut shell? We are to the world what Tasmania is to us: that quiet little place down below that’s so far off the radar, nobody who matters will ever know what you did there for a quick buck (sorry Tasmanians).

Also, we lose our sh*t over famous people. Lose. Our. Shit.

That has to be a good feeling when you’ve gone unrecognised at the supermarket for years. (And when I say ‘famous people’, obviously Aussie-only celebrities aren’t included.

I can’t really explain this phenomenon except to say that unless they have managed to ‘make-it’ overseas, no Australian is ever considered a ‘real’ celebrity when standing next to an international star, no matter how D-grade that star may be.)

So a lack of cash and/or a fragile ego pretty much guarantee we’ll be getting ourselves a new celebrity judge on Australia’s Still Got Some People Who Haven’t Won A Talent Contest Yet.


But I don’t want to pretend that these celebs are all one and the same. There are definitely some celebrity levels. And Australians’ excitement only increases the higher up that greasy pole that you climb.

Let’s look at the levels shall we?

Level One: Here’s where you’ve got formerly non-American small scale stars who’ve apparently made some inroads in LA and are therefore photographed ‘unawares’ at the shops (which they thoroughly enjoy). Also in this category are reality TV stars that not everybody will know about. These people love doing the rounds of the morning shows because it makes them feel super legitimate.

Level Two: This level has your aforementioned talent show judges. Bigger than your minor celeb, but certainly not A-List anymore, Australia is just the confidence booster they need. I mean really, what did you know about Seal before he got here except for Kissed by a Rose and Heidi Klum?

And Mel B had fallen off the radar completely until she cottoned on to the fact there were paparazzi here who actually wanted to take her picture. Stars on this level are hoping to use Oz as a stepping-stone back to their old status. And we have no problem helping them with that (Spice up your life!)

Level Three: Actual, bonafide A-Listers. When an actual, real-life, no-question-about-it star comes to Australia, we LOSE OUR FREAKING MINDS. We renamed the Opera House for Oprah. The hosts of The Project turned into giggling school kids around Brad Pitt. Ellen Degeneres was adopted as our own because she married an Australian who doesn’t particularly like coming back here…

We talk about Cate Blanchett like she might actually be God (actually, she might be… so maybe that’s okay). We just cannot believe that they’ve bothered to come all the way down here, where our sad equivalent of going on David Letterman is an 8am spot with David Koch.

It’s an odd relationship that us Aussies share with the career-boosting celebs in particular.

Because, you see – we know they’re B-grade. We know they’re just here because they think appearing on Australian TV is the same as appearing in a Japanese energy drink commercial or a Bollywood based mini-series (an embarrassing but well-paid secret).

But we get so dang excited that any celebrity of note is willing to sit through an hours-long plane ride to get here that we just don’t care. Look! Famous people!! Over there!!

However. Just like the pimply faced teenage boy who is head over heels in love with the popular girl who only bothers to talk to him every fourth Tuesday – are we just being used? Why do Aussies keep embracing these semi-stars with such fever?

I think we’re coming on a little strong, and it’s not doing us any favours. Let’s just relax. Play it cool. Maybe then we’ll get more visits from the higher end of the alphabet.

Check out this gallery of alphabet-jumping judges:

Alish Wilson is a young mum from Melbourne who loves writing, pop culture and pie. When she’s not chasing around her twin boys she’s working on that YA novel that she plans to publish. One day…

So what do you think? Is it fair to say Australia is the ultimate career destination for fading stars?