Swim and tonic

The latest buzz from our back-stage gossip

On the Stage

This article is taken from the March 2021 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering three issue for just £5.

Swim and tonic

Hats off to Elizabeth Hurley, 56 this June, and her ongoing endeavours to raise the spirits in these grim months, courtesy of those saucy swimwear snaps she dutifully provides to the masses on a daily basis. Irate lady columnists of a similar vintage take great delight in disparaging Elizabeth’s good name, none too delicately suggesting she’s guilty of unseemly levels of attention-seeking. Yet who’s to say her continuous attempts to boost national morale won’t, in years to come, be seen as something akin to Vera Lynn’s wartime efforts?

★ ELSEWHERE IN LOCKDOWN, frisky housewives’ favourite Hugh Bonneville delighted the old dears of West Sussex by volunteering at the local vaccine centre, Dame Joan Collins wailed about the injustice of it all from Belgravia, and Christopher Biggins busied himself flogging online bingo to the hoi polloi.

Special mention must also go to Miriam Margolyes, who used a live TV appearance — via the Italian countryside — to advertise to viewers that her spacious Tuscan residence would once again be “available for rent” as soon as events allowed. Our heroines come in many forms!

How tiresome it was to endure weeks of dreary communications from ageing theatrical contemporaries, constantly inquiring whether I’d “had the jab”. One couldn’t help detecting irritating levels of competitiveness creeping in among certain septuagenarians with frankly nothing better to do with their time. at being said, I can happily confirm I was vaccinated a whole 17 hours before Gyles Brandreth.

…Feeling reinvigorated after being injected at the plague’s expense, I swiftly called the agent insisting she“push for con rmation” regarding a previously mooted panto run with Ed Balls and Britt Ekland this December. Too much to ask, apparently!

Having been “bubbling” with the young nephew, matters recently came to a head in the early hours of the morning when I caught him munching on a packet of crisps while casually viewing hardcore pornography on the living room television. Though hardly a prude, I duly informed the boy I didn’t see why I should be paying added extras on top of already inflated TV subscriptions to indulge his x-rated shenanigans. Eventually managing to interrupt my heartfelt speech regarding him “one day finding the right sort of girl,” he politely informed me he was “watching Bridgerton”.

JUST AS ONE DARES to imagine a happier spring, events intervene to crush the optimism. In what counts as a body blow to the mental wellbeing of many up and down the land, I see those zany celebs are back with another Comic Relief on the 19th of March.

Crowning Glory?

Recently in hot water over The Crown, I note at the time of writing that show creator Peter Morgan has been indulging in some romantic toing and froing between sexy actress Gillian Anderson and sexy heiress Jemima Goldsmith.

While I don’t doubt they’re both charming girls, I shall only delicately say it’s imperative Peter keeps his wits about him at this critical juncture, with filming of the fifth series beginning in these
coming months.

Considering his “fictionalised” account of Diana and co in the 1980s already left media commentators/ assorted hangers-on foaming at the mouth with rage, he’d surely be wise to brace himself for all manner of eruptions when his take on the royals’ calamitous 1990s finally arrives…

While of course happy to courteously abide by Eddie Izzard’s insistence on being officially referred to as “she” and “her”, I now learn Miss Izzard rather conveniently also wishes to “remain in boy mode” when it comes to landing male acting roles at others’ expense. A blatant case of having one’s cake and eating it?

FOLLOWING RECENT disappointing reviews for the latest screen adaptation of Blithe Spirit, I’m reminded Dame Judi Dench (playing Madame Arcati) is left undeservedly contending with an unwanted tally of critical duds of late. Blithe Spirit follows hot on the heels of the old girl’s disastrous involvement in Cats, as well as her unfortunate casting as a gravel-voiced fairy in Artemis Fowl.

Who are those responsible for so woefully misadvising our most esteemed living actress in these advancing years? In the spirit of defending all that makes Britain great, shouldn’t such individuals be named and shamed?

Double trouble

Regular readers may recall that ever since a disturbing encounter with the said individual on Earl’s Court Road last autumn, I’ve made it a personal mission to expose the antics of a stranger bearing an eerily striking resemblance to former Bergerac and Midsomer Murders star John Nettles.

While the said doppelgänger’s often hostile behaviour towards those in SW5 innocently mistaking him for the great man has become a matter of public record, further alarming evidence comes to the surface. I’m now reliably informed “Bad Nettles” also isn’t averse to occasionally shamelessly passing himself off as the real Nettles after all! Notably, I should add, when a glamorous grand-
mother or two catches his eye!

To quite what degree this grim imposter has pro ted from such subterfuge while bogusly using John’s good name, presently remains unclear. I can only infuriatingly add that my detailed dossier of his activities, recently placed in the hands of the authorities, has so far met with shabby indifference.

★ DELICATE English flower Keira Knightley’s insistence on no longer appearing in the buff in front of male filmmakers compels me to point out that we chaps also have our crosses to bear.

I shall never forget, nor indeed forgive, the particularly precious leading lady I was once obliged to film a naked bedroom scene with many moons ago. The brassy actress in question took great delight in repeatedly informing me her last such scene had been with one Ian McShane, pointedly adding — blatantly at my expense — that “he was divine!”

Basil faulty

I gather Ralph Fiennes appeared something of an “oddball” on the
set of his latest film The Dig — not least because he was adamant about remaining in character as a Suffolk-born archaeologist both on and off-camera for weeks on end. Indeed, even after they’d wrapped, I’m told poor Ralph was still wandering about calling himself “Basil”.

It is of course a curse to many a great actor, when, after being so consumed by a character, they remain possessed by the said presence in a way those ignorant of our process cannot hope to understand.

I confess myself to once requiring the most forceful of professional interventions before finally being able to abandon the identity of a Gloucestershire-based bigamist, having so successfully channelled him on-screen…

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