Joan Collins first came to public notice in the 1950s, as a Rank starlet and sex kitten. In the 1970s she starred in film adaptations of her younger sister Jackie’s novels The Stud and The Bitch, and in the 1980s as Alexis Carrington in the American soap opera Dynasty. More recently she has reinvented herself, in these pages and elsewhere, as a grande dame and moral arbiter, bemoaning the debased standards and general vulgarity of our times. The World According to Joan (Constable, £12.99) finds her in full Lady Bracknell mode.
‘Chivalry is dead,’ one chapter begins, ‘manners have been thrown out of the window and politeness is an arcane word…’ Quite. O tempora! O mores! Benefit scroungers, spitters, queue-bargers, jeans-wearers and tweeters are all gleefully excoriated – though Collins admits to owning ‘about six pairs’ of jeans, and is not above the occasional tweet herself. ‘Erstwhile,’ she writes, ‘one took the step of marriage with care…’ Indeed one did, no fewer than five times.
Her fiercest indignation, though, is reserved for her fellow performers: today’s film stars, most of whom lack any sense of decorum; smutty comedians; and most especially the contestants on talent shows, who think they have what it takes to be a star – ‘as if they knew the real meaning of the word’.
‘I never was much of a one for self-analysis,’ she confides convincingly, ‘and I’m also not good at blowing my own trumpet – but I’m getting better.’ She’s getting better all the time.