Mind The Gap

By Claire Dowie.

A series of encounters between young men and ""the older woman"".



In the Caribbean, gap teeth are associated with sexual allure; in West Africa, they signify wealth. In historical fiction, gap teeth signified poverty, idiocy or deviousness, as with Chaucer's 'Wife of Bath'. A gap-toothed character was not one to be taken seriously, and they'd often be found lurking at the bottom of the social pecking order.

Gap teeth have served some of us particularly well. Comedians have long-played on a gap-toothed appearance to convey disingenuousness and lack of guile. This plays to the idea of flaws being funny, but in an age where gap teeth are easily fixable, uniformity has become increasingly desirable. As Patricia discovers, retaining a gap-toothed appearance now has a lot to do with allure. In France, it represents coquettishness, lustfulness and sexual naivety. Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin and Vanessa Paradis were all cast in the role of alluring child-women early in their careers; their uneven dentistry helped to convince. African and Caribbean cultures embrace this trait in the same way, whilst in Nigeria, gap teeth symbolise beauty and luck.

Today, a dentist's point of view on diastema, gap teeth would be that it's a flaw waiting to be corrected. What does it say about those who choose to retain this distinguishing characteristic in the face of bright white, even-toothed homogeny? In this playful, surprising personal journey, Patricia unpicks the consequences and the cultural connotations of retaining the gap in her two front teeth.

Genome: [r4 Bd=19910903]

The second of two programmes exploring the relationships of teenagers and their parents.

Today: parents on teenagers; the things you'd like to know but are too afraid to ask.

Producer Charlotte Blofeld

01And The Winner Is20040906

By Claire Dowie.

A series of encounters between young men and ""the older woman"".Joan has won ""a man who does"" for a fortnight.

But what's he going to do in her house? It's spotless!

Joan....Bridget Turner

Gordon....Shaun Dooley

Directed by Mary Peate

02Swimming With Delphine20040907

Delphine and her son-in-law Brian go to the same swimming club.

Before long it becomes an addiction.

Delphine....Dinah Stabb

Brian....Matthew Dunster

Directed by Mary Peate

03Supermarket Checkout20040908

The last day of a lost cause.

A retiring supermarket assistant spats with her younger, male boss.

Elizabeth....Sian Phillips

Mr Burton....Tim Treloar

Directed by Mary Peate

04Flaming June20040909

Simon takes it upon himself to cheer up his recently widowed neighbour.

June Parker....Gwen Taylor

Simon....Mark Bonnar

Directed by Mary Peate

05 LASTBeach Hut20040910

Someone's been sleeping in Amelia's Beach Hut.

She talks over what to do with her long dead husband.

Amelia....Prunella Scales

George....Eddie Marsan

Directed by Mary Peate