This article is taken from the December 2020 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering three issue for just £5.
Attending to my annual showbiz Christmas card list is always a meticulous affair, when one takes time to carefully consider the lay of the land.
I can now regrettably confirm that former co-star Julian Fellowes has a firm line through his name, after failing to return my calls concerning “possible openings” in the next Downton Abbey movie.
On a more positive note, among those narrowly surviving the festive cull for another year were Su Pollard, Simon Russell Beale, and Dennis Waterman.
Speaking of those on thin ice, regular readers will recall I recently sent a strongly-worded letter to the Radio Times in support of Peter Davison (generously reproduced in this column) after he was named the worst Doctor Who. Still not a word of thanks from the man himself. Isn’t it strange how thoughtless certain people become with age?
Having charged out into the street to berate the Amazon man after someone had maliciously ordered delivery of 17 further copies of Gyles Brandreth’s book of theatrical anecdotes at my expense, the mood changed to one of joyous reunion when he and I realised we’d trodden the Ilfracombe boards together in 2007.
As we reflected on the most calamitous of years for this business of ours, I assured the talented young gentleman in question there’d come a time when “Amazon’s loss was once more Ilfracombe’s gain.”
The kindly nephew — I’m still unclear what he actually does — recently suggested I tap into the current craze which sees actors charge fans for personalised video messages.
After he arranged for my services to be advertised in the appropriate place, to date I’ve sent heartfelt fiftieth birthday greetings to devotees in Thurrock and Gainsborough, and raised a toast to a ruby wedding anniversary in Anglesey.
For, I might add, under £30 a time, one really feels as if one’s giving something back!
Noting it’s coming up to 12 months since I first agreed to go on the latest agent’s books — her predecessor was a liar and a traitor — I felt it only reasonable we conducted a review of her performance to date over the telephone.
While acknowledging 2020 had not been the best of years to embark on our exciting professional journey together, I pointed out, in no uncertain terms, that we must “hit the ground running” in 2021. The listless response that followed left me to only conclude the woman must be drunk.
Personal memories of the late Sir Sean Connery fondly date back to my small but pleasing role in his 1974 fantasy film Zardoz.
I struggle to think of a more glorious spectacle in show business than the sight of Sean — confidently clad in his character’s red underpants and thigh-high boots — flashing that winning smile in the direction of any fair maiden passing by.
One hardly needs to confirm that the handsome old wolf — in between wives at the time — enjoyed happy hunting.
Should there still be any doubt (apparently there very much is) concerning the sincerity of my apology in last month’s column to the boy I “assaulted” with a broom on the set of a popular TV drama, let me hastily clarify matters.
Readers may recall the young man appeared overzealous with his prodding stick, designed to keep actors socially distanced on the day, prompting yours truly to take matters into his own hands.
I’ve since discovered, however, that the lad in question is the most exemplary of young men, who, should he kindly accept this conciliatory approach, I’d be honoured to call a colleague and friend. Might I also add that this is in no way connected to the fact I’ve only belatedly been told the boy’s mother counts among our industry’s most powerful and influential producers.
A brief question? Was it really you, John Nettles, who I passed by walking down Earl’s Court Road on the early afternoon of Tuesday, 17 November? If so, then your distinctly frosty demeanour towards a long ago co-star greeting you in such courteous a fashion was unforgivable. If this was a regrettable case of mistaken identity on my part (the said passing was fleeting and Father Time doubtless punishes us both), accept my apologies for the confusion.
Pressure’s been steadily building among fellow bachelor character actors to “bubble” over this year’s festivities, courtesy of the fact invitations elsewhere seem lacking.
At the time of writing, I remain intent on keeping this rogues’ gallery at bay. One cannot forgive nor forget the shameful scenes that accompanied last year’s Christmas Day charades, when a sorry combination of intoxication and professional jealousy caused certain individuals present to disgrace themselves no end.
Contacts in the professional lookalikes industry inform me they’re tentatively making plans for hopefully lucrative functions up and down the land next year.
For those of you seeking to branch out in these difficult times, I’m reliably told they’re crying out for “slimmed-down Adeles, Marcus Rashfords, and anyone boasting a striking resemblance to a cast member from Line of Duty.” Presently less in demand, meanwhile, are “Prince Harrys, Johnny Depps and Boris Beckers.”
Losing the plot
Following last month’s discreet plug, sincere thanks to those readers who’ve expressed interest in purchasing a copy of my debut novel Only The Liars Remain — the remarkable story of a distinguished thespian (loosely based on myself) who finally exacts revenge on so-called “friends” in the business who betrayed him decades ago.
While the identities of the very real villains were of course skilfully camouflaged by yours truly for fictional purposes, the London publishing houses presently prove uncooperative.
One impertinent type even emailed back to suggest publication would leave “Nigel Havers in a very strong position to sue.”
Festive morale suffered an early blow after learning one’s services would not after all be required in a major new online adaptation of A Christmas Carol. To add insult to injury, I hear my potential role as the Ghost of Christmas Present instead went to that intolerable loon Brian Blessed, who’ll of course make a terrible hash of it. Hasn’t the present been bad enough this year?
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