Who will be the next National Treasure?

After Dame Judi Dench’s resignation as a “national treasure”, Romeo Coates considers the runners and riders for the role

On the Stage

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

As show business hopefully emerges from the doldrums, what might we look forward to in these months ahead?  You heard it here first…

  • After financially fearing the worst, the Royal Shakespeare Company announces it’s “hugely excited” to have been taken over by much-maligned billionaire and football boss Mike Ashley. The newly-named Sports Direct RSC goes from strength to strength, with Mr Ashley proudly insisting he “knows what the punters want”.
  • Having first unveiled its £100 million “diversity” plan over the summer, the BBC shocks doubters by confirming outspoken actor and licence fee agitator Laurence Fox has been hired to host The Generation Game.
  • New Director-General Tim Davie promises that whatever the scale of global crisis in the years ahead, never again shall we be expected to endure plot lines based around the “inner thoughts” of characters from The Archers. Keen to leave a difficult 2020 with some semblance of dignity, Davie also vows that BBC One’s New Year’s Eve show “won’t be as piss poor as it usually is”.
  • The makers of James Bond consider appeasing the mob by turning Daniel Craig’s successor into a “teetotal, gender-fluid vegan”. After much soul-searching, they eventually instead settle on the daring idea that 007’s a handsome fellow who drinks too much, likes the ladies, and regularly kills people.
  • No longer fussy about the work he accepts, elderly charmer Nigel Havers confirms he — or, if too stretched, a semi-professional Nigel Havers lookalike — can be hired for “guest appearances” at village fetes up and down the land at relatively short notice.
  • Wounded after a certain boy wizard actor publicly turned against her during a recent transgender row, an emotional J.K. Rowling finally reveals the working title of her next book: Harry Potter … And The Unforgivable Betrayal Of The Woman Who Bloody Well Made Him A Success In The First Place. 
  • Sir Keir Starmer’s poll ratings enjoy a boost after the Labour leader frankly concedes his political prospects would undoubtedly benefit from “celebrity actors supporting someone else”. The Lib Dems optimistically announce their “door is always open”.
  • Following one embarrassment too many, professional loose cannons Miriam Margolyes and Brian Blessed are regrettably banned from appearing in any future live television interviews.

CONGRATULATIONS to my old co-star and housewives’ favourite Hugh Bonneville on his new svelte look. Only the most ungenerous whisper the words “dangerous midlife crisis”.

Having previously braced myself for the winter charms of a northern coastal town this December, the agent recently confirmed the pantomime’s off. After putting out feelers about next year, however, she cautiously mentions the “possibility” of yours truly sharing a panto stage with “Ed Balls and the woman who used to be Sue Ellen in Dallas”.

No special agent
Staying on the subject of the agent, almost a year after I graciously agreed to go on to her books (regular readers may recall her predecessor was a liar and a traitor) she’s become increasingly surly and peculiar in these testing times. During one particularly uncooperative telephone conversation, my warning that “this actor might just choose to take his career elsewhere” met with what can only be described as unhinged and sinister laughter.

Spirits have been raised no end since again being able to enjoy the socially distanced company of one’s fellow character actors in our hostelries of choice. Once the wine liberally flows, and old mutual resentments between us come to the fore, it truly feels like the very best of times have returned…

Following months of grim news, further alarming evidence emerges to prove we’re not out of the woods yet. I must report, with a heavy heart, that Gyles Brandreth is back promoting himself up and down the land. As I write, he’s recently struck in Stoke-on-Trent. Stay safe, and keep your distance!

To be treasured?

Dame Judi Dench’s recent, much-publicised announcement that she’s resigning as a “national treasure” at the age of 85, is inevitably a blow to morale. Let us now bravely attempt to move forward by carefully considering some of the runners and riders hoping to fill the vacuum:

Olivia Colman  among front-runners ready to try on Dame Judi’s national treasure shoes for size. Widely expected to recover from a rare setback after being the second-best Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown

Claire Foy — impressive form continues. Surely there or thereabouts?

Kate Winslet — the curvaceous English rose could go all the way. Already thrice-wed as she turns 45, expect plenty of thrills and spills yet!

Emily Blunt — no Julie Andrews she, but this Mary Poppins actress has the steely savvy to last the course.

Thandie Newton — confirming to the press that former co-star Tom Cruise was a scary oddball only helps growing momentum.

Keira Knightley — still many of the right credentials on paper, but getting herself bogged down with Extinction Rebellion types really won’t do.

Emilia Clarke — having looked a highly promising prospect only last year, our beloved Mother of Dragons is temporarily off the pace, through no fault of her own. Blame the writers who made such a dog’s dinner of the last series of Game of Thrones!

Helena Bonham Carter — a veteran in the national treasure contender stakes. First a bookies’ favourite decades ago, Helena’s batty public appearances down the years muddied waters. Not to be written off yet …

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