Concern grows over Hugh Bonneville

And Piers Brosnan’s Irish accent leaves something to be desired

On the Stage

This article is taken from the April 2021 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

Weightier role

Concern grows over frisky housewives’ favourite Hugh Bonneville’s Hollywood-style physical transformation of late.

While history suggests such sudden image changes for our top celebrities can be a sure sign of troubled waters ahead, I’m also reminded newly-svelte and airbrushed Hugh, 57, displays reckless disregard for continuity issues when it comes to upcoming filming on the Downton Abbey movie sequel.

Surely creator Julian Fellowes is right to expect his star actor puts some extra timber back on before once again inhabiting the more healthily-nourished Earl of Grantham?

AS SHE CURIOUSLY INSISTS on speaking with an American accent whenever interviewed by Americans, and an English accent whenever interviewed by the English, one cannot help wondering how that strange girl Gillian Anderson attempts to talk in the presence of both nationalities at the same time.

It’s now imperative this fascinating social experiment is put to the test …

No sooner does Pierce Brosnan generously agree to star in a new video to boost Irish tourism than small-minded types see fit to mock the old charmer’s disastrous attempt at an authentic Emerald Isle accent. More than half a century after he left the land of his birth, it’s hardly Mr Brosnan’s fault if the price of longtime commercial success is losing one’s precious Irish brogue somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.

◆ Is it right and proper for a thespian of Ralph Fiennes’s stature to be seen publicly begging movie executives to keep him on as James Bond’s boss M when Daniel Craig’s successor arrives? With another twenty-first-century purge of the Bond franchise inevitably on the horizon after Mr Craig’s departure, grim rumour has it dear Ralph’s on the “vulnerable list”. Better to go to the scaffold with silent dignity …

After repeatedly telling the nephew — we’ve been “bubbling” — that I couldn’t wait for a time when the pair of us again saw a live show, imagine my delight when he recently proudly produced two pristine tickets at breakfast.

“Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella?” I enthused. Closer examination revealed the young rogue had in fact purchased — on my credit card, no less — two tickets for an August pop music festival in Reading.

While struggling to contain one’s rage (he knows full well I was the only boy at school who objected to The Beatles getting the MBE) I believe I managed to disguise my true feelings on the matter.

Doubtless the randy little blighter’s banking on me agreeing to pass on the said invitation, enabling him to instead accompany some frivolous filly at my expense.

Well, the game’s afoot!

Nothing to be sniffed at

With levels of fun having reached new heights these past months, I see this mean-spirited government is now intent on “cracking down” on the weekend drug habits of the respectable classes.

Heaven forbid anyone should look at the broader picture; not least the sorry fate of many in the middling ranks of the acting profession, whose sudden lack of employment over the past year presently leaves them stretched to fund essential Colombian marching powder habits.

What’s more, anyone fortunate enough to have witnessed the sight of a privately educated North London thespian attempt to talk “street” when the friendly neighbourhood narcotics dealer pops round of a Saturday evening, would confirm this represents social interaction at its most riveting.

★ Lavishing THE CROWN with more awards, the Americans wilfully ignored the fact that its creator Peter Morgan was only recently declared a national disgrace on this side of the pond for being the first dramatist ever to shamelessly fictionalise royal history. How can Peter be expected to learn the grave error of his ways if he continues to be indulged in this fashion?

Succumbing to daytime television during the dreariness of lockdown, one couldn’t help noticing the infuriating frequency of “down to earth” northern voice artists, hired to flog the array of tat on offer during ad breaks — not least, cost-effective dying. I’m informed much of the hoi polloi find such seemingly humble-sounding folk more “trusting”. Surely the work of wolves in (northern) sheep’s clothing?

When boys were girls

News that kindly gent Ronald Pickup had passed at 80 transported me to a distant time when I — then, but an impressionable lad — had the honour of watching both him and Tony Hopkins dressed in drag for a delightful all-male version of As You Like It at the Old Vic in 1967. It briefly left one hankering for the more straightforward days of centuries past, when the boys played all the roles as Shakespeare himself intended.

★ Speaking of Tony Hopkins, I note the reformed hellraiser has been indelicately suggesting the actors he used to get sozzled with in West End watering hole The Salisbury are now “all dead.” He should be kindly informed that some of us remain!

Unsober reflection
Having once been assured by people I can no longer quite remember that these were to belatedly be my “defining years” in this corrupt trade, the plague-inflicted tragedy that’s befallen such promise is rarely far from one’s thoughts.

Who knows where I might have been, had disgusting fate not intervened? Many a solitary cocktail hour’s been spent pondering the matter — and it seems I must now apologise to those friends and colleagues who I may have telephoned at length to elaborate the point further.

While we hopefully move towards better times during this spring of 2021, the relentless wheels of showbiz ensure at least some certainties ahead.

No longer lucratively typecast in rom-coms, Hugh Grant will instead continue to be lucratively typecast as villains; more pretty actresses will play Princess Diana (at least two on the way); unless forcibly restrained, Gyles Brandreth is coming to a town near you.


Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10

Critic magazine cover