Does anyone really care who plays Doctor Who anymore? Like James Bond I take only a passing interest but the BBC could learn a thing or two from the Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson when it comes to casting the lead in a big media franchise.
In a nutshell, Aunty Beeb went overboard for reasons I cannot even begin to fathom. Peter Capaldi is a fine Actor and a credit to his profession but I have always found the best actors who ever played The Doctor were like Capaldi fine actors, well-connected but unlike him, not necessarily household names. When one thinks of William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Silvester McCoy, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Matt Smith, all came with fine reputations as actors but were not necessarily well-known to the general public. In fact Chris Eccleston was the one actor of the above who was a household name via his work on TV dramas like ‘Our Friends in the North’, ‘Cutting It’ and films such as ‘Let Him Have It’. Probably the only one who was successful in the role despite having ‘previous’. He chose to leave the Show after one series. Other Actors, who were household names like Peter Davidson and Colin Baker, never worked in my view because they were well-known prior to taking on the role of The Doctor.
When casting Bond, it has always being clear to me that the Producers of that franchise always had a shortlist of actors to replace the current incumbent. Timothy Dalton was in their sights years before he took on the role – even before Roger Moore was cast. Pierce Brosnan was well-known to the producers. The late Michael Billington screen tested for the role far more than any other actor in the history of the franchise but never got the job. Rather he was used as a foil to keep Roger Moore in line.
The way the Bond producers work is something the BBC should take onboard. There are ways of doing things and there are ways of doing things. The BBC got it totally wrong in how they went about announcing Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor. It will be interesting to see how he fares in the role as he is the second oldest actor after the late William Hartnell to take on the role.
I have written in previous editorials and articles about ‘The British Disease’. Everyone has an accent. It says something (positive in my view,) of where one comes from, be it a town, a county, a state, a country even. I have met many foreign nationals who now live and work in the UK who are proud of where they come from. I have lost count of the number of Polish people and other Eastern European Nationals based in London who are extremely proud of where they come from and their culture. Sadly where UK natives are concerned, you are judged on how you sound, rather than what you say. This is more of an English problem than a Welsh, Scottish or Irish issue.
It is with some tedium and irritation that I read this past week, that Donna Air, a TV Presenter I have never heard of, feels she needs to change her native Newcastle (Geordie,) Accent for RP (Received Pronunciation). This is due to her now stepping out with the Duchess of Cambridge’s Brother and is exposed to the ‘Posh Set’.
It is this kind of ‘Verbal Racism’ that makes those of us who weren’t born ‘with a plum in our mouth’, to feel under-valued when growing up or when we move up the ladder in Society or to another part of the Country. I remember when I first moved to London in mid-1990s and how I got disparaging comments and wasn’t taken seriously in my then place of work, because of my Birmingham (Brummie,) Accent. This was one of the reasons I started taking drama lessons because I felt I had no value as a person, which I now know is complete and utter rubbish. So when I hear that imbecile Katie Hopkins say that the further north you originate from, the more unintelligent you sound (or words to that effect,) all I can say to snobbish fools like her is that one of the reasons we are no longer ‘One Nation’ is not because of an influx of immigrants but because of narrow-minded WASPs like her. And if she doesn’t know why I called her a WASP then she should jolly well look it up, the definition as used in American terms.
Someone with a regional accent or any kind of accent promotes trust in my mind. I have met and had to endure listening to people with posh accents sprouting false sincerity behind a painted smile. Not for the first time have I made a ‘phone call, was put through to some call centre in the north of England or spoke to someone from the North and immediately felt at ease and trusted them not just because of what they said but because of the sincerity in their voice. The Singer and X-Factor Judge Cheryl Cole, a Native Geordie, endeared herself to me primarily because she sounds so sincere. Why? Not just by what she says but the sincerity in her voice. This is true for people from Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
The Michael Caine and Sean Connery have won many plaudits and awards over the years for their acting and one main reason I feel this is so (their skills as actors aside,) is they never compromised on how they sound and who they are. It is what they do, what they say that makes their performances true. And that is where good acting lies in my view.
That Giant of Theatre and Film the Late, Great Orson wells once said (and I paraphrase this,): ‘Accents aren’t important. What is, is the sincerity in your voice’. And that says it all for me.
While I am not a cheerleader for UK Prime Minister David Cameron, when he lends his weight to the right issue, he reminds me that the office of Prime Minister still carries a lot of weight. The situation of cyber bullying and the case of suicide caused by the Ask.fm affair, brings to the fore once more the situation of online abuse. I myself have been the subject of cyber bullying so know something of the pain, despair and depression that comes as a result of having everything you say, do, write online, subjected to the some of the most vile abuse I have ever come across . In my case, the perpetrator made out she was the victim and would refer to me as “My Stalker” on her blog. She claimed me as ‘her’ Stalker, despite the fact I lived in London and they in Peterborough, from where she poured out her vile abuse and bile.
In both movies ‘Spider-Man’ and The Amazing Spider-Man’ Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben (played both by the late Cliff Robertson and Martin Sheen respectively,) spoke directly to their nephew about having a responsibility to behave in a certain way. The most famous quote of recent times came from the first movie where Cliff Robertson said: “With great power comes great responsibility”. That one quote has found its way into other areas of popular culture. It was used by a black criminal businessman in the TV Series ‘Sons of Anarchy’ to members of the ‘Niners’ gang, where one commented that he was “…no Spider-Man”.
My personal view is this is a Quote that many people particular the young have caught onto. The question I want to ask is: “Then why are you not behaving with great responsibility?” The Internet, World Wide Web, Social Media networks have laid great power in our hands. Words, images and creativity are the great powers we have instead of the ability to climb walls, spin webs, build suits of armour or go out at night dressed as an over-sized bat. So given what we have at our finger tips, we have a responsibility – a great responsibility to use that power in a thoughtful and positive way. Bullying and insulting people to the detriment of their self-esteem, that they feel the need to end their life, is not what I would say is using great power with great responsibility. Far from it.
The area of what goes on in the online community and The Law has been a huge gulf, as it is with newer and newer technology. Governments and the legal systems of nations can only do so much. David Cameron has commented and highlighted the issue but in the long run it really is down to individuals to behave in a humane and responsible manner. Bullying whether physical or cyber definitely ‘ain’t cool bruv’. And it ‘ain’t nice either sis’. So don’t do it. Grow up!
How nerdy are you? That was the question posed this week. Me? Not all that nerdy. The only reason I know so much about ‘Star Trek’ is I have seen the various incarnations over the years. The same with ‘Star Wars’ to a lesser extent. As to the superhero movies, I read the comic books those movies are based on. Simply put I would qualify to be a nerd because I have seen and read most things that now get recycled for newer generations. In terms of technology I am not as good as I was. As long as it works, I am fine. I have no interest in how the Windows computer operating system works or any other computer operating system for that matter. When it goes wrong, I will deal with it then. I got fed up of going for jobs where it was automatically assumed one needed to be a Windows Engineer with a MCSE Qualification in order to work in an office environment where one is probably only doing the filing. I had one former friend who thought their Apple Mac had died on them because in their words: “The fan doesn’t work, it overheats and shuts down”. When I tested it on their behalf it was nothing of the kind. It just went into sleep mode after fifteen minutes so I amended the energy saving features and now they have their Mac back and a Mac that works.
Nerds have been known to become billionaires but without any kind of personality or people skills. I may not be anywhere near them in those terms of wealth but I am well-rounded and have a personality. I can get by without being a ‘Nerd’.
The TV Series ‘Breaking Bad’ is coming to an end. Sadly I have not seen this Series which has become something of an American Classic. I am fully aware of the storyline but missed the first series when it premiered on the FX Channel (now Fox,) in the UK. The series got caught up in the American Writers Strike back in the day and I kind of lost track of it. I will have to check it out on Netflix or LoveFilm to see if I can play catch-up.