Fantastic life of Brian

Over these past months, one has lost count of the number of humble showbiz folk selflessly going to the trouble of taking photos/videos of themselves being jabbed

On the Stage

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

With delightful English Rose Emily Blunt having been endlessly persecuted for an attempt at Irish in her latest film, isn’t it time to draw a line under this obsessive nonsense? In simpler, happier days of old, a professional actor from the south of England could expect to boast a resumé listing “unspecified Irish”, “northern simpleton”, and “chirpy working-class cockney” without fear of censure.

A shot in the arm …

For all the apparent success injecting the population at the plague’s expense, let us never allow ourselves to forget the real heroes. Over these past months, one has lost count of the number of humble showbiz folk selflessly going to the trouble of taking photos/videos of themselves being jabbed, in the profound belief they’re raising national morale. A personal highlight remains the sight of veteran firecracker Elaine Paige warbling (to the tune of Memory): “Vaccine … I am having my vaccine!” A rather bemused young nurse looked on, possibly tragically oblivious to the greatness in her presence.

Young co-stars of dads’ favourite Kate Winslet, 45, can rest assured she’ll now personally monitor the appropriateness of their on-set love scenes. Only recently, the crusading actress even went to the trouble of hiding in a car boot to fulfil this sensitive task. All that Ms Winslet apparently requires in return is an effusive “Thank you so much, Kate!”, before she’s obliged to inform the media of her heroism.

Following my own humble words of support on her behalf last month, hats off to Jenny Seagrove for taking to task “disrespectful” types who continue to childishly mock her regular appearances in longtime partner Bill Kenwright’s productions. “Bill wouldn’t cast me if he didn’t think I was able to do it,” she confidently clarifies.

Other fragrant sixty-something actresses need not apply!

Having spent weeks being forced to binge-watch Line of Duty at the insistence of the “bubbling” nephew, I’d like to briefly use these column inches to formally apologise for what may have been an overly emotional response following the recent Sunday night finale.

My impassioned cocktail hour reaction on seeing that sorry excuse for a climax — not least, blaming the boy himself for causing me to “waste hours of my life” — was, on more sober reflection, uncalled for.

Cry God for Harry

While recently supporting our remerging hospitality sector in a west London beer garden, myself and a companion were struck by the sight of a bedraggled-looking figure unhappily drinking alone nearby.

After I tentatively approached, the young man in question wasted little time bitterly pointing out he used to be in popular demand as a “Prince Harry lookalike” on the corporate circuit — but was now resigning himself to further lean times ahead.

Should Mr and Mrs Markle ever be good enough to finally comprehend the real consequences of their actions, they need look no further than here …

I gather RSC boss Gregory Doran has taken an “historic” step by inviting the public to go behind the scenes and watch “live streamed” rehearsals of an upcoming Henry VI, Part I. Let us be grateful for the enlightened age of King Gregory, where such gimmicks take precedence over the old-fashioned business of putting on a decent play.

Watching the latest celebrity line-up of Scottish nationalists — namely US-based actors Brian Cox and Alan Cumming, along with the little chap who pretends to be cockney in Line of Duty — it was painfully clear those biggest shoes of all are yet to be filled. Who could hope to match the awe- inspiring sight of the late Sir Sean Connery taking the fight to the Sassenachs, while standing atop his Highlands retreat in the Bahamas?

No sooner had Prince Philip breathed his last than “close friend” Gyles Brandreth was eagerly plugging a new version of his rehashed book on the late royal. What a comfort it must be to the countless showbiz figures of note who’ve crossed Gyles’s path down the years, knowing this grinning Grim Reaper doubtless has similar “tributes” ready to flog the moment they also keel over.

How disappointing to read of perky film star Emily Mortimer’s “incestuous” approach when shamelessly insisting on hiring friends and family for her BBC TV adaptation of The Pursuit Of Love. Had Ms Mortimer been incestuous in the right and proper manner, she wouldn’t have turned her back on convivial late father Sir John Mortimer’s loyal telly pals — those of us still alive might have appreciated the call in those fallow months!

Fortunate to be regularly employed on screen in his dotage, I hear Charles Dance, almost 75, has been complaining about being offered what he sniffily describes as “telling cameos”. Apparently, he still vainly considers himself leading man material. Will someone let the old lizard down gently?

Age cannot wither Ian

I should add that Mr Dance has also been among those heard to make ungenerous noises regarding Sir Ian McKellen’s courageous bid to play an elderly-looking Hamlet during an upcoming run at Theatre Royal, Windsor. Truth be told, you don’t presently have to look far to find green-eyed theatrical contemporaries of Sir Ian ready to privately predict the great man’s overreached himself. Though should this octogenarian Danish Prince go down a storm — opening the floodgates for similar “age-blind” Shakespearean portrayals — you can be sure all and sundry will be announcing they were firmly behind this “groundbreaking” concept all along!

Keen to do her bit for the modern-day sisterhood, Dame Helen Mirren maintains she resented being a beautiful, successful young actress in the “terrible” 1970s.

Those who can remember encountering Helen riding high during this now officially appalling decade, curiously fail to recall her voicing such displeasure at the time.

Best of British luck to the handsome “retired lawyer” — touchingly nicknamed Jeeves — now bravely romancing the charmingly eccentric Sarah Miles in her 80th year. I wonder if Jeeves has laid eyes on those dozen or so love letters that Sarah once confessed to having stashed away in the attic from old squeeze Larry Olivier? Surely a pretty penny there …

Fantastic life of Brian

Bellowing exhibitionist Brian Blessed is to revive his one-man show, containing a unique array of “extraordinary” tales long happily embraced by the press on slow news days.

As well as his oft-repeated claim to have successfully punched a polar bear, Brian will once more assure all present that the Queen, no less, faithfully insists on watching him in the Flash Gordon film “every Christmas”. If only Her Majesty knew she was such a fan.

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