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Our Crack Tongue & Groove
Danny Dyer? We’re not laughing
Danny Dyer, then. The worst man in Britain, or merely the worst actor? His latest film ‘Run For Your Wife’ crashed and burned but, sadly, also featured the last ever performance by Richard Briers, a man of inestimable greater talents.
There’s an episode of the 1970s sitcom ‘The Good Life’ entitled ‘Mutiny’ in which we see Margo (played by Penelope Keith) working herself up into an almighty palaver as she tries to gather herself to take the lead role in an amateur theatrical production of ‘The Sound Of Music’. We see her receiving the best wishes of husband Jerry (Paul Eddington) and neighbours, Tom and Barbara (Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal), in the fraught backstage changing room before the performance. When they leave, we, as viewers, are then primed to sit back and enjoy the anticipated terrible opening night - as signposted by usual sitcom tropes.
Instead, and rather cleverly, the action switches to Margo’s living room after the performance, into which Jerry, Tom and Barbara all troop. The camera cuts to a close-up of Tom – now sitting on the settee – and we are able to imagine the sheer apocalyptic nature of the whole production simply by looking at his face. His amused eyes dance around somewhere in the middle-distance as he turns over the horrors he has just bore witness to in his mind’s eye. He then speaks: “I mean…” before faltering, a bemused smile of incredulity dawning across his face, still uncertain of what he has just seen, “That WAS The Sound Of Music, wasn’t it?”
It’s a really lovely piece of acting, capturing, in a fleeting few moments, the ineptitude of Margo’s play, something lesser sitcoms would have actually had to show. And it demonstrates just how important it was to have a comic ACTOR in the role in order to be able to bring off such a scene.
Briers died in February and his last credited role was a cameo in the British film comedy ‘Run For Your Wife’. I say “comedy”, but it makes ‘Sex Lives Of The Potato Men’ look like ‘Some Like It Hot’. It stars Danny Dyer as a chirpy bigamist who leads a double life by juggling two wives (played by those other stellar acting talents Sarah Harding and Denise Van Outen). Dyer is one of the most objectionable men in Britain (he once told a reader of Zoo magazine to “cut” his girlfriend) and a man seemingly designed by The Bell-End Corporation to be their top-of-the-range model; but he keeps getting roles despite the fact that when it comes to getting laughs his acting skills shouldn’t even place him in the same profession as someone like Briers.
Comedy is the most difficult kind of acting to pull off well. Ant and Dec tried a remake of ‘Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads’ a few years back and only succeeded in highlighting the sublime performances of Rodney Bewes and James Bolam in the original. And witness the plight of Sue Perkins in her sitcom ‘Heading Out’ in which she simply plays a version of herself with scant regard to anything resembling subtlety.
I don’t for one second believe that actors such as Richard Briers are a dying breed, but, producers must realise that prize arseholes such as Danny Dyer are for laughing at, now with. RM