Go west, young man

Terry Gilliam holds court in exile


This article is taken from the February 2022 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issue for just £10.

After coming to terms with the year 2022, this veteran actor and celebrated showbiz insider puts his reputation on the line by boldly predicting what awaits us in the months ahead. Remember, you read it here first folks!

★ When intimacy Coordinators suddenly face a spate of allegations on TV and movie sets up and down the land, a new post, “Executive Intimacy Coordinator to the Intimacy Coordinator”, is hastily established. Confusion reigns.
★ So-called “nicest man in show business” Michael Palinis berated by a mob on Hampstead Heath and barred entrance to alma mater Oxford University after it’s revealed his “sinister” 1989 travel show Around The World In 80 Days “blatantly failed to expose the horrors of the British Empire”.
★ The BBC confirms rumours Sherlock Holmes is next to be portrayed as a “no-nonsense, trans northerner”, with “Baker Street” now in Bolton. As excitement mounts over casting, we’re assured by a Beeb source: “It’s more true to life than anything Conan Doyle wrote.”
★ Critics who gave the long delayed James Bond film five stars in 2021 begin to quietly hope this will be conveniently forgotten in the mists of time.
★ Having seemingly taken the Princess Diana franchise as far as they can, industry execs proudly announce plans for Diana-related “prequels” and “pre-prequels” over the coming months and years. “This will be Diana as you’ve never imagined or wanted before,” we’re told.
★ An ill-judged daytime telly booking sees bellowing loon Brian Blessed claim he once told the Loch Ness Monster to “fuck off!” and “kicked the Abominable Snowman in the bollocks”. Just prior to the interview being cut short, Brian adds that he constantly speaks to the “Queen and Kenneth Branagh” on the telephone.

Is fleeing west the only hope?

News that old rascal Terry Gilliam has found sanctuary at Bath’s Theatre Royal after being seen off by grim types holding sway at The Old Vic in London, prompts some of us of a similar vintage to wonder whether Somerset might be the answer, now that plying the acting trade in the doomed capital faces so many obstacles.

While dear Oxford (alas, also taken), once provided refuge for the late King when surrounded by the Cromwellian hordes, might the fine city of Bath prove our last stand against modern-day usurpers?

One destination no longer on the cards is esteemed actors’ retirement home Brinsworth House. I gather murky forces within have already seen to it that any future approach regarding my residency in Twickenham would be, for all intents and purposes, “blackballed”. While not without longtime enemies in the said establishment, it seems the firmest finger of suspicion must be pointed at one-time housewives’ favourite and (as we went to press!) current Brinsworth resident, Richard O’Sullivan.

Should this rumoured skulduggery be the result of one’s “scene-stealing” guest appearance at Richard’s expense on Robin’s Nest in 1977, then it truly marks the height of pettiness.

Just be yourself

Following the recent embarrassment I mentioned on the TV set, is it any wonder the likes of yours truly gets himself in such a dreadful pickle?

Having finally managed to get up to speed with the importance of “gender-blind” and “colour-blind” casting, I’m now informed that I must accept it’s all about “authentic casting” — meaning us actors can actually only play characters who are already very much like ourselves. Just how these two seemingly conflicting rules will work in harmony is quite beyond the comprehension of this elderly player, though I’m sure there’s someone out there ready to explain

Thank goodness plans are now emerging to teach “sexual ethics” to young actors at risk of being psychologically damaged after appearing in Shakespeare’s “problematic” plays. If we’d known in my day just how terribly harmful performing the Bard’s works was to our young, impressionable minds, we wouldn’t have had nearly as much fun at the time!

Captain Comedy

Preening octogenarian Patrick Stewart joyfully recounts in an interview how he and Ben Kingsley were once the subject of an official complaint after indulging in high jinks at the expense of their RSC co-stars.

Having happened to be among the said cast obliged to take the matter to theatrical authorities at the time (to no avail, of course!), I can confirm there are few more dispiriting experiences in a humble trouper’s career than sharing the stage with self-absorbed celebrities and their tiresome “in-jokes”.

New year, new cheer

While the honours system is of course long discredited, we should at least remain grateful for certain recent omissions. Mercifully, no gongs at the beginning of the year for Brandreth or Biggins — despite the former’s relentless royal toadying and the latter’s disgusting public appeal for an honour only weeks before.

Hats off to saintly Michael Sheen, who recently declared he’s now a “not-for-profit actor”. After I mentioned this to the impudent nephew, he tastelessly remarked I’d unwillingly been precisely that for five years.

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