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Posts Tagged ‘Rowan Atkinson’

This Sunday night, the winners of the BAFTA film awards will be revealed.  With hosting duties safely in the hands of the man with the golden wit, the platinum vocabulary and the crooked nose, it should be a stimulating evening to say the least…

Stephen Fry will be taking to the BAFTA podium for the 8th time

Stephen Fry will be taking to the BAFTA podium for the 8th time

“Hey, wait a minute,” you might be saying to yourself, “you’re the telly lady! What qualifies you to talk about film awards?” I’m not here to speculate about possible winners or to engage in a lively debate about which films may have been snubbed; however, the BAFTA awards are a televised event and therefore fall under my jurisdiction. I watch these shows for the competition and the camaraderie as well as the glamour and the pageantry they provide.  And while I could care less who anyone “is wearing,” I am relieved to report that talented actress Tilda Swinton is not nominated for an award this year thus making the red carpet safe from ensembles such as this…

Tilda Swinton Red Carpet

What I look forward to most is the acceptance speeches, delivered with humility and acknowlegement of one’s cast, crew and supporters.

In fact when I watch American award shows, I am always rooting for the British nominees to win because it usually guarantees a coherent, clever, self-deprecating speech with a minimum of blubbering.  For example, Hugh Laurie can always be counted on for a textbook acceptance soliloquy. Please feel free to skip ahead to the relevant portion of this clip…

Of course this doesn’t mean that the also-rans aren’t disappointed.  There have been more than a few times that a surreptitious quick cut to a losing nominee in the audience has betrayed an actor’s true feelings. You can’t help but wonder how gracious they would be if forced to accept the trophy for the winning party…

So on Sunday night at 8pm you know where I’ll be, plopped down in front of my telly watching the BAFTA festivities on BBC America.  The odds from William Hill don’t predict too many British winners but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Besides, I know nothing can top this champion of all acceptance speeches, at least not until Emma wins again anyway…

P.S. It just occured to me that every single person I highlighted above was part of the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club – even Tilda Swinton.  I don’t know what to say about that except I appear to have a strange affinity for the thespians of Cambridge.  Funny old world, innit?

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I recently watched the first, and fortunately only, series of The Royal Bodyguard starring septuagenarian, David Jason.

Captain Guy Hubble, the center of whirling vortex of clumsiness and ineptitude.

Captain Guy Hubble: a danger to himself and others, a whirling vortex of clumsiness and ineptitude.

That in and of itself should give you a clue that this sitcom was doomed to fail.  Who would allow Her Majesty to appoint a 70-year-old man to be in charge of royal security?  Are we supposed to believe that the Queen doesn’t know that the man who inadvertently keeps rescuing her family is the one putting them in danger in the first place? She has to be a smarter cookie than that, surely.

But let’s give Sir David his due.  He was able to get away with pratfalls once upon a time:

Not to worry, The Royal Bodyguard is merely a jumping off point from which to introduce other clowns of British telly fame.  Those who can master the art of slapstick are quite talented indeed and the ones who come off as klutzes walk a tightrope (sometimes literally) between humor and being perceived as annoying twats.  For example…

1. Howard Steel from The Worst Week of My Life

Basically Meet the Parents with a British sensibility, TWWOML features Howard,  a well-meaning bumbler who, when subjected to the stress of crucial events in his life, becomes a full-on buffoon. In the week leading up to his wedding (series 1) and then the week before his wife delivers their first child (series 2), Howard commits an endless string of blunders, posing a danger to himself and especially to his in-laws.  Sound familiar?  Well it just so happens that both The Worst Week of My Life and The Royal Bodyguard were created by the team of Mark Bussell and Justin Sbresni.  Interestingly (well, probably not so interesting) I discovered the connection when I realized that Geoffrey Whitehead appears in both shows as the primary annoyee:

As Captain Hubble's superior and Howard Steel's father-in-law, Whitehead possess a sour, disapproving, put upon attitude - the perfect foil for a klutzy character.

As Captain Hubble’s superior and Howard Steel’s father-in-law, Whitehead possesses a sour, disapproving, put upon attitude – the perfect foil for a klutzy character.

2.  Roy Mallard from People Like Us

An unusual choice you might say, since this fictional documentarian is primarily heard and only inadvertently appears on camera, but when I think clumsy, I think Roy Mallard.  In the course of following people through their daily work routines, Roy is the antithesis of the fly-on-the-wall presenter he strives to be. His attempts at verbal virtuosity constantly fall flat.  For example in trying to describe the difficult duties of a tech company managing director, Roy explains that  “being cruel to be kind is never easy – and since Peter isn’t doing this to be kind, his task now of simply being cruel, is even more challenging.”  The most brilliant part is that even though we don’t see Roy, the reactions of the other characters tell us he is spilling, stumbling, and breaking things on a regular basis.

3. Miranda

Not since the screwball actresses of my youth (Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett come to mind) have I seen such an adept physical comedienne as Miss Hart.   At 6’1″, Miranda is in a perpetual state of unintentional tripping, stripping and wind ripping.   Mix with a healthy dose of awkward social habits such as singing at job interviews and categorizing her favorite words and you can see why Miranda has attained the status of comedy royalty.

4. Mr. Bean

Our list would not be complete without mentioning the indomitable Mr. Bean.  His sketches pass the true test of physical comedy which is the ability to bridge language barriers. All of Mr. Bean’s predicaments, frustrations and triumphs are conveyed through his actions and that very expressive face.  No words are necessary and that’s a very rare skill to be sure.

The ironic thing is that looking clumsy on purpose requires quite a bit of coordination and overall body awareness.  Mr. Bean himself, Rowan Atkinson, has been bandying about the idea in recent interviews that at 58 he is too old to be playing the clownish Bean and might be retiring the character for good.  Perhaps he should have had a little heart to heart with David Jason awhile back, hmm?

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Friday night I met up with a few folks from Anglophiles United – it’s what we call our support group for expats of the UK and lovers of British culture.  Eleven of us gathered to watch the Olympic opening ceremonies here:

Beef O’Brady’s – Wadsworth, Ohio

The name hints at an Irish affiliation but I doubt BBQ bacon cheeseburgers or “whole lotta steak nachos” originated on the Emerald Isle or within its general vicinity.  Several of us did enjoy a nice pint or two of “Irish” red ale.  I don’t care if it was brewed in Indiana.  It’s quite tasty.

Busted Knuckle Red, endorsed by irate leprechauns hiding in tall grass.

Cozily huddled around two scooted-together tables, we tucked into our chicken wings and fingers, veggie wraps and yes, fish and chips.  Around 8 pm it became clear that NBC Sports channel was not broadcasting the opening ceremonies, NBC’s main network was.   After pleading with the very busy staff a few times, the bartender clicked the remote, sound was finally established and we began our journey into Danny Boyle’s Isles of Wonder.

I’m sure most of you reading this watched the ceremonies yourself so I don’t plan to give a full account of the program.  My intention here is to relate my experience in watching it with a group which included a contingent of people who were born and bred in England.  Naturally, they brought to it their unique sense of humor.  For example, after the queen’s parachute “jump” one gentleman commented that it was the first time Her Majesty had gone without wearing knickers.

Advert your eyes. One should never peek up the Queen’s skirts.

They also expressed a degree of famous English cynicism.  In the tribute to the NHS, they bitingly observed that while nurses are dancing about the wards, patients are stacking up for a lengthy wait in the corridors.

All right, you lot! Where have you hidden all the bloody bed pans?

I think it’s safe to say we all delighted in Rowan Atkinson’s appearance as the notorious Mr. Bean and his Chariots of Fire daydream.  Leave it to an Oscar-winning director to insert a cinematic homage or two into the festivities.

I was disappointed they didn’t use Mr. Bean’s yellow mini in the dream sequence.

Personally, my heart was warmed by the choir of pajama-clad children singing and signing “God Save the Queen.”  Unfortunately the cameras caught Queen Elizabeth with a rather stern expression during this rendition which in turn gave rise to a swift and witty wave of royal memes:

To be fair, after 60 years the monarch may just be really sick of that particular song.

By the time the British music segment arrived, we were all getting a bit distracted and a little confused, particularly by the glowing party house. I wondered at first if we were heading into Trainspotting territory.  As the lengthy Parade of Nations got underway, we decided it was wise to make a break for it and return home in order to discover the secret identity of the final torch bearer(s) from the privacy of our own living rooms . Incidentally, when I walked in the front door, the procession of countries had only progressed to the G’s.

I would like to thank Barbara, David, Katie, Michelle, Chris, Barry, Sherry, Susan and her hubby (so sorry, I didn’t catch his name) for joining my husband Jeff and me to share in this quintessentially British experience.  I would also like to acknowledge our intrepid young waitress, Joni, for her tremendous patience and sense of humor. I doubt we could tip her well enough for all her excellent work

The following day I talked to some people who expressed their disappointment with the whole production.  I listened to their opinions and they are, of course, welcome to them.  I think it comes down to individual tastes and sensibilities.  It’s sort of like Monty Python humor, either you get it or you don’t.  I won’t speak for my expat friends, but I gathered they were happy with the overall ceremony.  In true English fashion, there was no gushing or bragging; however, I suspect they were quietly proud.

And I don’t care who you are, the fireworks were utterly awesome:

 

Whichever side of the pond you’re on, what was your assessment of the Isles of Wonder?

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