Bald (C4) A busy night on the telly, Tuesday. The start of a new series with people agonising about being 40 (been there, done that), and another about discarding First Wives (still got the original, no interest there). All of which meant a programme close to my heart - head, actually - was squeezed out of yesterday's column.

So let's spare a thought for Bald, a hair today and gone tomorrow story of five men in their 20s trying out a variety of treatments to put hair back on their head. Unlike women, men can't get treatment for losing hair on the NHS and resort to all manner of cover-up tricks.

Britain's six million bald men spend millions each year on hair treatments. Some say they don't want to be seen as old before their time. Others feel they won't attract women without hair and that size - of their hair - does matter.

Russell, 28, tried spray-on hair at £13 a can before deciding to be bald and proud of it. Builder Ian, 23, has so far spent £1,500 on laser therapy to stimulate and regenerate hair follicles. After three months it seems to be growing back. Lee, 35, is a Goth whose "uniform" involves having a good head of hair, something that he lacks. He's spent £4,000 on a hair transplant, and plans to spend thousands more on further surgery. "Who cares about the money? It's made me happy," he says.

Wigs are a problem. People who don't wear them find them funny, probably because they usually look ridiculously false. The makers of the documentary knew there are 100,000 wig-wearing men in the country, but could find only one young man willing to own up. Ironically, 24-year-old James is a hairdresser whose bald patch is, as the narrator put it, "covered with someone else's hair".

The manager of a wig shop told how a hair piece is "non-surgically grafted into the thinning areas". What he meant was that the wig is glued on the bald patch. He preferred the phrase "hair replacement procedure" to wearing a wig.

Older single man Martin, 43, wears a toupee. He did it on the first date - told his blind date that he wears a wig. This is advisable, he says, because wearing a wig is "dicey in the throes of passion".

Warren, on the other hand, is one of those who've found that bald heads are fashionable. He sees baldness as a positive thing and wouldn't change it. His look earns him work on the gay glamour market, although he's straight in his private life.

He's happy without hair. For many others, bald is a four-letter word.

Published: 10/04/2003