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I have heard tell there is a new job going in the BBC, that of a show called Dr Who. Apparently this thing has been running for years. How it escaped my notice is beyond me. It’s about a man in a blue box who goes around, apparently, poking his nose (and there have been several noses, if you believe that) into other peoples’ business. Aliens, apparently. The Dereks are his big foe, apparently.
Now, I have heard tell that the main role in this show, the Doctor, is up for grabs and they are looking for an older type gentleman to portray this gent. Who better?
I immediately rang Neville, my agent, and after excitedly telling him how suitable I was to be a time travelling alien, the confused Polish cleaner put me through to his mobile. Neville works strange hours. He never seems to be in the office when I want to speak to him, always away at meetings, at his Son’s barmitzvah or busy with important clients. Well, when you represent such luminaries as John Leslie or a Cheryl Baker lookalike you can expect to be pretty active.
When I finally got through I told him my plan “I would love to be Dr Who” I said. My reasons for this disclosure followed and must have seemed like incomprehensible babble to him. There was a long pause at the end and Neville said he would pull every contact, call in every favour and harangue everyone involved with the show that he could find to make it so.
Neville can truly work miracles in television. He once represented a well known television newsreader who, after a particularly poorly directed ten o’clock news went on a killing rampage in the directors’ booth. Some of the staff, particularly the cleaners had never seen such carnage. Finally apprehended and tazored to the ground while covered in intestines and bits of intern, the situation was hushed up largely due to Neville’s influence. (Rumour has it they hid the corpses on a Nick Knowles show as contestants. The perfect crime. Although you didn’t hear that from me.) As I say I don’t wish to name any party involved, but as to the newsreader she’s still there and sometimes on Radio Four too.
I sat back in my chair. Soon I would be captain of whatever starship this person drove, issuing orders while clutching some sort of torch which people pretended to die from when I pointed it at them. The ice in my weak orange cordial literally shaking.
Two minutes later he called back. His answer encapsulated all the blinkered thinking, all the prejudice and malice, all the private little club mentality of such a production I have come to expect. ‘No’. I demanded to know why.
Readers my remember my stint in Blackhammer. For those who don’t, Blackhammer was about a android who was sent back from the future to right the wrongs which had been wrongly put down at the time as being right but had, in hindsight, been wrong. Also as Gor in Gor The Revolutionary, about a group of rebels attacking what they felt was wrong with the galaxy. Gor had a dark side to him, but he was essentially a good man caught in a storm. Many TV critics felt it was ‘exceptional’ television, and a few of them went so far as to call me personally a ‘cult’. Finally I told him about Dark Waves, a series in which I played a man who didn’t exist (who did, obviously) and his adventures with an automated canoe. Solving crimes, that sort of thing.
Neville was very firm on this. ‘Tarquin, this was all years ago.” He whined in that authoritarian whiney way of his “there’s a reason why none of these series are on DVD yet DIY SOS has a boxed set”. I said it was ridiculous and the BBC should put the tapes onto DVD and ship them out to the shows fan base immediately. I was told then, that in the early eighties, with storage being short and tape being expensive they had to make decisions about what to keep. Apparently my epics were top of the list. In fact, had it not been for the tape shortage they were earmarked as central heating fuel anyway.
Shocked as I was, I persisted. I put my case. I knew the show. I knew how to say Doctor in a mysterious way. I knew and remain in full knowledge of how to open the door to a cupboard and go in in a variety of speeds. I know how to hold a small coloured torch up like it’s some sort of weapon and most importantly, I know how to be inside a small space with a woman without subsequent charges.
But I was told no. I was told they had some specific people in mind, and I was none of those people.
The line then dropped and that was that.
Oh, what joy I would have brought to the role. Mysterious, yet approachable. Fun loving yet safety aware. Clever and yet… not quite so clever. I would have brought so much to the role that other actors would have said ‘I could never have done it like Tarquin. He will not be forgotten because of this’.
I would have been up there with the best Doctors like Steve Davis and Richard Baker.
It’s their loss.
It’s the end of June and Summer is finally here. Many of my compardres have already departed for sunnier climbs; Connery is in Egypt, Moore has gone to Barcelona and Jacobi is being taken up the Urals by some mountaineers.
Alas, such travel is beyond me these days. Not that I haven’t ventured. I have ventured a great deal personally and professionally. I don’t think there’s a town in the UK which I have not appeared in in some production or another. Certainly many of them still remember me. My appearance in one long dust covered play was described as ‘a tour de force of the eternal human condition. Or it seemed eternal’.
One thing and actor must be able to do is portray the human condition. Be it happy, sad, angry, betrayed, envious, confused or some of the other emotions I can’t think of right now but I am sure they are around. I often use a technique I learned in drama college. “When you want to show sad, Tarquin” said old Macklby, our drama lecturer “remember something sad”. And it worked. That evening in a production of Antigone, I thought of something sad. In fact, I thought of several of the saddest moments of my life and ended up apologising to the King of Thebes for not doing my technical drawing homework.
But it is a technique I like to pass on to younger actors. “Think of something tragic” I say. This resulted in one of my students performing what I believe modern parlance to be a ‘killing’ performance of Hamlet that very night. I won’t name him, bless him, and I don’t want to imply that his success on television, radio and indeed in films is down solely to my gently coaxing out his inner Thespian. It would be wrong to suggest that all the awards and plaudits and praise should be mine also, and far be it from me to even postulate that his millions of pounds, beautiful wife, luxuary lifestyle is totally and utterly traceable back to advice in that toilet in Grimsby.
For myself it is the art that is important. I have no time to write lectures and acceptance speeches anyway. I simply find that awards and all the glamour and glitz that go with it to be too far removed from the art itself. How many of those awards have resulted in a true portrayal of a down at heel bookmaker, addicted to crack, on the streets forced to service businessmen to glean a small token sum for his next fix? I couldn’t portray that role, even if it were offered, knowing that on my mantelpiece I have a trophy which screams ‘YOU ARE THE BEST’. It would distract me. And then there’s the obvious production and crew who love to see these awards, and you would have to take it in and they would all be in awe and then you would have the extra burden of being convincing on camera/mic/stage/in the marquee knowing they all know this is not the real you, no matter how true to life and tear jerking your performance.
No, keep your awards, I say. Don’t even mention me. For me, ‘tis the art that is important. The ripping of the shroud from the dark corners of the human psyche, the revelation of who we all are, and how far we could all fall, that is the key, the reason, the truth.
Somebody has asked to see Gandhi Wearing A Scotch Egg on his head again - as always happy to oblige!
Somebody has asked to see Nelson Mandela with a walnut whip on his head again - as always happy to oblige!
Someboday has asked to see the David Niven With A Wagon Wheel On His Head Image again - as always happy to oblige!
At least five pornographic websites are among Egypt’s 100 most frequently visited online destinations this year, according to Alexa, a division of Amazon.com that tracks online traffic patterns globally.
The statistic proves particularly significant as Egyptian web surfers may soon be stripped of all access to Internet pornography sites.
Egypt’s Prosecutor General ordered the government’s ministries of telecommunications, interior and information to begin enforcing a ban on online porn last week.
The five most visited porn sites in Egypt rank at numbers 15, 23, 29, 67, 83, with two X-rated sites appearing in the country’s top 25 most-browsed sites.
Similarly, there are seven pornographic sites in Tunisia that appear among the top 100 most visited sites, coming in at numbers 14, 16 and 20 and 49 60 and 93 and 97.