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Anna Richardson and Louise Redknapp offer a joyless guide to cosmetic surgery and other tricks to keep TV reviewers young

Notice anything different today? I’m talking about the photo, the mugshot of muggins here, at the top of this piece. Well, frankly it was getting embarrassing, the last one was taken in about 1973. I’d meet people for the first time and they’d say “Oh Jesus, what happened?” Or “Is that your son who writes in the Guardian?”

It’s not just me. You’d think, looking at Guardian picture bylines, that this place was filled with attractive young columnists, firm of flesh and fresh of mind. Ha! I’m looking at Freedland over there, teeth in a glass on his desk, gumming on a biscuit. And Freeman, bent over, gibbering and dribbling into her keyboard. It’s an old trick, not changing a byline photo. I swear to God some people even have Dorian Gray ones. But for those without a newspaper outlet through which to lie, Anna Richardson and Louise Redknapp are on hand with How Not to Get Old (Channel 4), a complete guide to the world of anti‑ageing.

So here’s Luisa, 28, whose tummy isn’t as drum-taut as it was before she had a couple of babies. Yes, I do see what she means. If you were being unkind (which I am), you’d say it was like something Paul Hollywood might want to get his hands into, before leaving it to rise. She’s shown a bank of screens with other tummies on them – some of which have had work done, others which haven’t – to discuss and try on for size. “Think of it as a book group for tummy tucks,” says Anna R. Eh? I’m not sure I get that, what kind of book group do you go to Anna?

Louise R, meanwhile, meets a lady who can take years off simply by putting makeup on. “Makeup is the most empowering tool, it can literally make you look 20 years younger,” she says, and she demonstrates on Francie, 63. I’m not sure Francie looks literally 43 afterwards, to be honest, but there are some handy tips about sucking in your cheeks to follow your natural shadows with the brush, and never going too dark on the brows.

It’s not just for girls. In Huddersfield, 41-year-old builder Paul is tired of his hangdog eyes. It’s happening to more and more of us fellas apparently, we feel our eyes make us look older, it’s holding us back in our careers, stopping us getting promoted. Very true – I’m thinking about the gaffer here, who only got the job after extensive blepharoplasty. Paul’s having that – eyelid surgery – too. Plus a bit of filling, smoothing and skimming. He’s having fat sucked from his stomach then injected into his tear troughs and another divot that bothers him. Yes, divot, that’s what they call it; maybe Paul’s wife has been teeing off from his forehead.

I suppose this might be interesting, useful even, if you’re considering cosmetic work yourself. Otherwise it’s not the greatest television. They manage to remove all tension by telling you what’s going to happen before it does. For example, in one of those irritating coming-up-after-the‑break trails, Anna says “and we find out if Louisa’s decision was the right one” followed immediately by a clip of her – Anna – saying “my goodness, that is a tummy to be proud of”. I’m guessing the right decision then.

It’s not even humorous or fun – Gok they’re not. But anyway, reveal time: Luisa’s £6,000 new tummy is great, totally unkneadable, but we knew that already. “Everybody in the family is very proud of her,” says her dad. Is that a bit of an odd source of pride: expensive cosmetic surgery? And Paul is still scarred but will maybe look a little younger when (and if) it all heals. His wife thinks so. Quick! Promote him, make him foreman before he’s headhunted.

The stinging freezy inner-thigh treatment Anna tries is rubbish though, does nothing and costs £800 a thigh. If you want results, it seems, you’ve got to go under the knife.

Not me, I’m perfectly happy in my skin. All of it. Well, apart from all the extra bits around the eyes. And Paul does/will look nice, plus I do need a pay rise. To pay for the moob job … That’s what happens isn’t it, you have to carry on to keep up with other parts of you? And before you know it you’re Frankenstein’s monster. Keep a close eye on that byline picture.

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