Published: 30/05/2002, Volume II2, No. 5807 Page 20 21

The NHS was on a media high last week after winning the endorsement of 'outspoken'Blankety Blank host Lily Savage.

Last Wednesday, The Express and the Daily Star both dedicated 300-word articles to how the 'TV drag queen' slammed government spending as 'an absolute disgrace'during the annual soap awards.Having just recovered from a heart attack, Ms Savage (otherwise known as Paul O'Grady) told her celebrity-infested audience:

'There is an awful lot of bashing goes on when it comes to the NHS.But It is not the system that should be bashed, It is the way It is funded.'

Musician Elton John also joined the health debate, berating prime minister Tony Blair and his government.Quoted in The Guardian last Thursday, the multi-millionaire said: 'You should be ashamed of yourselves - you're socialists, or supposed to be.'

Adding: 'For God's sake, we live in the 21st century;

the trains do not work, the health service doesn't work, what are you doing?

'I am disgusted with the way the health service is working.'

Proving no serious broadsheet story is worth printing nowadays without a showbiz angle, last Friday The Times investigated plans by retail giant Boots to offer a one-stop high-street shop where wrinkly customers can inject Botox directly into their faces at£200 a shot. It warned of concerns about 'trivialisation of specialisms' in the commercial cosmetic surgery industry as a whole.

The Thunderer then went on to argue the widespread importance of Botox in the 21st century: 'Celebrities who have had the treatment include Lulu, ' it stated authoritatively.

It also suggested the 'Peter Pan of Pop', Cliff Richard, and TV quiz host Anne Robinson had benefited from the boost.

Days earlier, the Independent on Sunday revealed that the NHS is producing its own alternative to Botox.Called Dysport, it will result in an 'expected multi-million pound windfall' for the service.The boffins involved work for the centre for advanced microbiology and research which is 'based near the Porton Down biological defence complex'.Quickly passing over this potentially disturbing information, the Independent on Sunday instead focuses on the fact that 'celebrities such as Cliff Richard'have boasted of the virtues of Botox.

Seen or heard anything that mediawatch should cover? e-mail alastair. mclellan@emap. com