Fat lot of use

One cannot approve of so lazy a gimmick as a fat suit in reality-obsessed 2024


This article is taken from the May 2024 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

Fat lot of use

Giving us his modern-day Falstaff (suddenly “Shakespeare’s ultimate gangster”, apparently), McKellen unfashionably relies on a fat suit for the role. Though such an approach is now often frowned upon by the obese/obese-conscious, old Gandalf deems himself above reproach at the time of writing.

Whilst not underestimating the great man’s still insatiable need for the limelight as he nears 90, one cannot with true conscience approve of so lazy a gimmick in reality-obsessed 2024.

Unlike this current starry portrayal, my own Falstaff triumphantly graced the stage after I’d dedicated decades to perfecting an altogether more authentic build for the part.

Olivia asks for more

Delivering a masterclass in British humility on the night she bagged the Oscar in 2019, privately-educated Olivia Colman enjoyed favourable headlines after blubbering to Americans about her surprisingly (!) humble origins.

Visibly hardened by ongoing Hollywood success five years on, our celebrated actress now less romantically complains she’d have even more dollars in the bank if her name was instead “Oliver Colman”.

Though naturally lapped up by a showbiz press obsessing over examples of “gender pay disparity” amongst Tinseltown’s millionaires/millionairesses, one wonders whether Ms Colman’s current predicament connects with the masses in quite the same fashion.

Sympathies to Miss Dillon, wailing to the press after receiving only derisory mention in Patrick Stewart’s tedious memoir. Roughly half-a-century the preening oddball’s junior, the sweet girl sobs she’d always hoped their five-year romance would merit fitting acknowledgement when he committed the life story to print.

A predictably shabby state of affairs on Patrick’s part …

I gather Mr Cleese has fallen into the clutches of a “psychic” in his dotage, defiantly maintaining the woman in question “knows things” like no other. History of course confirms the theatrical temperament is ripe for the taking by such murky figures, not least in times of professional crisis. Though my own faith in a long-ago clairvoyant in Parsons Green was increasingly tested as years passed, one must fondly acknowledge that she confidently predicted “exciting adventures on the high seas” — only days before it emerged I was up for a modest-but-pleasing role in 1984’s Mutiny on the Bounty. Whilst fate/nepotism subsequently conspired against me in that particular regard, there can be no denying I was soon enough briefly appearing in the underrated TV yachting drama, Howards’ Way.

While normally opposed to those pre-show “trigger warnings” presently all the rage, one must make special exception. News that pensioners attending Gyles Brandreth’s latest offering were informed beforehand of “distressing material” (thanks to the efforts of a particularly diligent theatre manager) counts amongst the year’s more positive developments!

With this most sinister of travelling salesmen having long exploited the gullible affections of Middle England, courtesy of a shameless array of apocryphal tales and money-making schemes, further action in this particular regard can only be encouraged.

Hats off to our most enduring of English roses, Miss Richardson, recently required to take an ITV type to task for crassly wishing her “Happy 60th” — some 10 months before the event! Witnesses assure me Joely swatted the fool away with usual aplomb.

Having confirmed in last month’s column that one was part of an exciting consortium of character actors bidding to purchase Islington fringe venue The Old Red Lion, matters now reach an infuriating impasse.

Without wishing to overly comment on the shambolic finances of certain figures concerned (all too prone to “talk the talk” at 4pm in The Salisbury), I shall no longer be associating with liars and time-wasters.

After spending the past two decades eagerly telling pretty girl journalists he was about to portray his esteemed late barrister father in a movie about The Rolling Stones, poor old Havers runs out of road. With said film at last coming to fruition, Nigel’s naturally deemed too decrepit for the part!

Reflecting on the marriage going down the pan all those years ago, ancient dandy Mr Dance now confesses he predictably “succumbed to temptation”. No stranger to altercations with Charles during his prime (not least, Chelsea Arts Club, 1995), one can readily confirm success went to the man’s head in the most monstrous fashion.

A Pauline conversion

Permit me to pay fitting tribute to one’s longtime “biggest fan” Pauline, following sad news of her recent mysterious demise.

With the lady in question a particularly dedicated follower of my career after a brief-but-acclaimed turn in Space:1999, she and I would constantly cross paths over subsequent decades.

Whilst a regrettable moment of weakness on my part during a 1991 Birmingham sci-fi convention triggered a challenging period in relations — and soon very necessary legal restraints at Pauline’s expense — I’m happy to report she and I achieved a more workable footing during her autumn years.

Suffice to say, this veteran trouper cannot help feeling the march of time all the more keenly, now that his one and only stalker is dead and buried.

Though the critics will always delight in being unkind, Miss Hurley selflessly stars in unsettling lookalike son Damian’s directorial debut. For all those po-faced concerns being raised about the long-serving sexpot’s steamy film performance, there can be no denying she supports her young offspring’s career in ways few 58-year-old mothers are prepared to.

First blood to Sam McAlister in that catfight with former Newsnight comrade Emily Maitlis over who cashes in best at the Duke of York’s expense. With Ms McAlister shamelessly revelling in the spotlight since her film was released before Ms Maitlis’ Amazon effort, one awaits ruthless Emily’s response with eager anticipation!

Agent of destruction

Weeks since noting increasingly unsettling behaviour on the part of the nephew/lodger, it pains me to report he’s excelled himself beyond his uncle’s worst fears.

Having long suspected the lad was up to no good, matters recently came to a head when the cocksure youth announced he’d in fact spent much of the past year-and-a-half secretly acting on stage! Whilst one struggled to see how this preposterous mockney/geezer persona passed muster within any credible professional circles, the boy brazenly declared he’d been hailed “compelling” by Time Out.

On being delicately reminded he lacked any of the formal training required for this most unforgiving of professions (not to mention being due back at the call centre within the hour) he giggled in ghastly juvenile fashion that he’d just landed an agent … MY AGENT!

After reeling from this betrayal, I made swiftly for the Bayswater office, angrily informing said young lady representative it was a case of “me or him”. Seeing the woman’s suddenly malicious expression, I sensed this probably wasn’t a hill to die on.

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