Acute accents

Honours, parties and the case for jailing Brian Blessed

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

With ubiquitous broadcaster and BBC poster boy Amol Rajan leading the charge against surviving “posh” accents appearing on the corporation airwaves, we must brace ourselves for the inevitable.

As the career trajectory suggests “Saaf London’s” Mr Rajan will be Director-General by roughly 2029, let us accept without further ado that any remaining hint of unfashionable refinement will have been banished from the BBC before the decade’s out, succeeded by the studied vocal delights of the professional Cockney, Mancunian and suchlike.

Struggling to come to terms with the end of the second Elizabethan age, one’s been heartened by any signs of normality in these strange weeks since. How reassuring it was to see that most enduring of English roses Ms Seagrove back at Windsor so soon after the monarch’s passing, delighting us with yet another plum role courtesy of her adoring patron Mr Kenwright! Rising above the grubby jibes of jealous detractors, Queen Jenny’s reign in the royal borough remains secure.

It appears we are still required to be wowed by the sight of leading actors disguised in prosthetics while portraying famous figures from yesteryear.

While a once novel way of attracting award-winning attention, containing excitement at the sight of the latest “unrecognisable” star gracing our screens in this fashion proves easier with every viewing.

Having “narrowly” lost out on what would have been a small but pleasing part in a lucrative prequel, I’ve been resolved to batten down the hatches during a professionally quiet autumn.

With talk of an energy crisis to boot, the time felt   right to conduct a hasty reassessment of costly domestic arrangements — not least the consistently energy-draining antics of one’s long-time “lodger” and nephew. Matters came to a head when a rare visit to the boy’s attic quarters revealed the scoundrel — or “social media influencer” as he calls himself — had taken to surreptitiously toasting his weasel form via two   recently-purchased mobile heaters and a ruddy sunbed!

Despite his brazen attempts to bamboozle me with twenty-first century jargon when caught red-handed, the cash-guzzling contraptions were very swiftly found   a new home after it was announced I’d be charging him by the hour.

Scottish nationalist types excitedly suggest celebrity Dundonian Brian Cox is ready to prove devotion to the cause by abandoning a life of luxury in America and relocating to the land of his birth.

Closer inspection of what eager-to-please Brian precisely said in the heat   of the moment suggests matters remain far from certain, alas. Indeed, a somewhat flustered Coxy (possibly sensing the considerable hole he was digging for himself!) proceeded to make all manner of convoluted noises regarding where and when this glorious homecoming would take place.

Surely wiser to follow the example   of SNP favourite Sir Sean Connery, who had no qualms about waving the flag for Scottish independence from his popular Highlands outpost in the Bahamas.

Crowning glory

One shudders to think what further honours will be bestowed upon His Majesty’s favourite Shakespearean knight Sir Ken Branagh in these years ahead. 

The pair’s bond stretches back more than four decades, when, following his casting as Hamlet, Rada student Ken “reached out” in a letter to the heir to the throne, sweetly announcing he wished to “learn the ways of a Prince”.  Tickled pink, our future sovereign and frustrated thespian soon obliged. I need hardly stress how generously fellow students viewed Ken’s shameless royal toadying at the time!

Ηearing the estranged ex-agent had dropped dead in Puerto Banús, after careful consideration I courageously chose to put aside reservations and attend the old wolf’s send-off in town after all. 

With our long and once fruitful partnership abruptly ending following his betrayal in Whitstable a couple of years ago, it suddenly felt fitting during the latter half of the wake to say a few impromptu words outlining how and why I’d finally found it within myself to partially forgive the rogue.

While one’s admittedly emotional condition deep into the afternoon prevents me from recounting precisely what was said in the presence of fellow showfolk, I’ve been assured this moving speech had clocked “one hour, seven minutes” by the time the last of the fellow mourners was heading home.

While the late agent had his many faults (corruption and bigamy technically among them), I cannot help now hankering for the entertaining company he offered.

Many a long and pleasing luncheon was spent addressing the “road ahead” for one’s career, fuelled by the kind of imaginative expense account that made him the truly magnetic figure he was. Such convivial times are of course lost on the dour girl currently representing my affairs. Despite regular objections regarding the location of our lunchtime meetings, she stubbornly refuses to forgo the charms of “Wagamama”. 

Deemed persona non grata in Islington ever since having the temerity to write a musical with (Tory!) Andrew Lloyd Webber, one-time “Labour luvvie” Ben Elton cut a self-conscious figure when spotted by telly cameras at the party’s conference.

Should he hope for this still fragile rapprochement to become stronger in time, I trust Mr Elton has learnt his lesson and will desist from collaborating with — or indeed speaking to — anyone in show business not publicly embracing the cause of His Majesty’s Opposition.

Now that movie boss Ms Broccoli insists her next 007 must be a sensitive soul reflecting the “evolving” men of the age, it’s high time the moaning majority accept there shall be no more of that Bond girl-bedding, heavy drinking, handsome killer of old. Thank goodness such unnecessary fun is behind us.

Exeunt, thank God 

The recent “surprise” birthday party proved a dispiriting affair, courtesy of the largely decrepit attendees.

With the pesky nephew having callously neglected to invite a single actor/actress under the age of 78 (Robert Powell and Anthony Andrews were among notable no-shows), I was mainly left contending with the increasingly deaf, senile, or woefully self-absorbed. 

The only saving grace was the fact most of this sorry rabble had worn themselves out by 4.30pm and had to be helped off the premises.

Her Majesty’s passing tragically leaves a most regrettable historical footnote uncorrected. Brian Blessed’s preposterous claim the late sovereign personally told him her “favourite film” was his 1980 offering Flash Gordon, lazily parroted by journalists ever since, would surely have seen the bellowing loon dragged to the Tower in less indulgent times.

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