It seems that Jimmy Carr’s appearance as a panellist on the game show Blankety Blank rubbed lots of people up the wrong way, but the only thing that grated on me was his claim that a man who lived alone and won a hot tub was ‘the saddest thing he’d ever heard’.
The BBC programme was the third most-watched television show on Christmas Day (behind the Queen’s Speech and Call the Midwife), attracting 5.26million viewers.
Comedian Jimmy Carr was criticised for trying to upstage the host, Bradley Walsh, although some argued that he would have been a better choice for the role. Viewers took to Twitter to moan that he was ‘making it about himself rather than the contestants’ and he ‘loves the sound of his own voice’.
I laughed at several of his jokes and was glad that he helped contestant Kurt win a hot tub, but his comment about the inappropriateness of the prize annoyed me.
Why on Earth shouldn’t somebody who lives alone have a hot tub? As fellow panellist Emilia Fox pointed out, he could invite somebody to join him, once the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic have been lifted.
But if he wants to relax in a hot tub by himself, then good for him.
It’s not that different to a bath: it’s nice to share a bath with someone you love, but it’s also nice to relax in one by yourself. Similar could be said for lots of other activities. People don’t only do things by themselves because they haven’t got anyone to do them with or because they’re antisocial.
For Jimmy Carr to call the situation ‘sad’ implies, and helps to maintain the widespread perception, that people who live alone are inferior to people who don’t, and that they are to be pitied. Many people seem to believe that there must be something wrong with people who live alone, because otherwise they would find someone who wants to live with them.
While it may be true that many people who live alone would prefer to be living with someone else, and suffer from loneliness, it’s not always the case. Being alone and loneliness are not the same thing.
It should be acknowledged that not everybody who lives alone is single, and also, some people who don’t live alone wish they did. I lived with housemates for many years because I was not in a financial position to live by myself.
More and more people are choosing to live by themselves, for a variety of reasons such as freedom and peace.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of people living on their own in the UK went up by 16 percent to 7.7million between 1997 and 2017, while the population increased by only 13 percent. The number of one-person households is projected to rise to 10.7million by 2039.
This may be partly down to a change in our relationships, with more people being divorced or single than previously.
Organisations such as The Living Well Alone Project aim to raise awareness that living alone is a legitimate choice and there is help out there to make sure that people who live alone, whether by choice or through circumstance, feel confident, secure and connected.
I’ve been living alone since my relationship ended earlier this year, and while I’m in no rush for this to change, I’d like to live with a new partner at some point in the future.
In the meantime, should I win a hot tub, pandemic or no pandemic, I’d rather sit in it by myself than invite Jimmy Carr round to join me.