For the past quarter century, the tabloid press has always had one source of genuine celebrity copy, from one person who was famous for being famous, knew everyone, mixed with Royalty, had everything, was seen at all the right places, and now has passed away. Tara Palmer Tomkinson was found in her Kensington apartment yesterday and pronounced dead soon afterwards. She was just 45 years old.
Tara Palmer Tomkinson
So far, so tragic: someone who had it all, but became, by all accounts, increasingly unhappy and lonely, dogged by increasingly poor health and the legacy of a cocaine habit that verged on the truly heroic. But for the press, this was yet worse: a source of goss cut off, never to return. There was only one thing for the tabloids to do - make some money off of her before there was nothing more than memories left.
As usual, this meant the Sun and Mail leading the pack in the efforts to flog a few more copies off the back of Ms Palmer Tomkinson’s death. This meant digging out lots of Phwoar! inducing photos from her past to produce the kind of “Look readers, she’s hot and she’s dead” schtick that got the Super Soaraway Currant Bun into such hot water when the Murdoch goons pulled the same stunt with Reeva Steenkamp.
This resulted in the Sun announcing “Goodbye To The Original It Girl”, with the Mail also running plenty of photos of a scantily attired Ms Palmer Tomkinson with the more direct headline “TARA FOUND DEAD”. That was tasteless enough, but then came the demand for new angles to fill this morning’s papers. And while the Mail simply told readers of “Charles’s grief for the It-girl no one could save”, the Sun went one better.
“Royals’ Celeb Pal Dies Aged 45 … Loud bang … then Tara found dead 5 days later … Penthouse Riddle Of TPT … Cops Called As Body Found … Coke & Brain Tumour Fight” screams the front page. The paper’s supporting story - which Mail Online has since lifted, in its inimitable magpie-style way - also tells “Builders heard loud bang from inside Tara Palmer-Tomkinson’s penthouse FIVE DAYS before body was found - as it emerges rare auto-immune disease was ‘eating her from inside’”.
Thus the potential source for more speculation, and more cheap copy: Ms Palmer Tomkinson had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, but it was not malignant, raising the possibility that it was not that that killed her. The press is now realising this. It’s also revealing that she was not thought newsworthy enough for them to be fussed about a further potentially fatal condition. Until yesterday.
Party lifestyle does not always mean glamour
What the Sun, to its credit, admits, but leaves to the end of its report, is that despite all the money, Ms Palmer Tomkinson regretted the OTT lifestyle in which she had indulged for perhaps too long: “I’d love to lie and say I have no regrets, but I do … I’d like to go back to that young girl and shake her. So much was handed to me on a plate”.
All that wealth and attention does not bring happiness. But it does help the press to flog their product to a Sleb-obsessed readership. Farewell, Tara Palmer Tomkinson.