Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Be seeing you............

A burst of what you might call "news-inspired" posts tonight none of them involving Gaza (not yet at least).

First up, Patrick McGoohan has died. If I say he was 80, that should instantly call forth the response "I am not a number - I am a free man!" as he is best remembered for the 1960s TV series The Prisoner, which he co-authored and in which he starred. It's very hard to imagine a TV channel commissioning such a series now: utterly surreal though full of menace, as though Ingmar Bergman had done an episode of Dr Who. It certainly put Portmeirion on the tourist map: indeed my own interest in the series dates from a visit there about 15 years ago (while I remember the series being screened, I never watched it at the time - I have the DVDs now).

Personally I shall remember Patrick McGoohan most fondly for his wonderful performance as George Bernard Shaw in The Best of Friends. (Why does the amazon.com site not list McGoohan as a star? He had equal billing with Hiller and Gielgud!) If the DVD weren't so bloody expensive I'd love to see that again: the BBC aired it some 20 years back. McGoohan, Dame Wendy Hiller and Sir John Gielgud, and every one of them on top form (thus perfectly matched). The scene where Shaw receives a notice of Sister Laurentia McLachlan''s (Hiller's) elevation to some senior rank of nunhood, which he (understandably in the circumstances) mistakes for a death notice; whereupon he sends a wonderful note of condolence to Sister Laurentia's sister nuns; whereupon Laurentia herself responds to explain his mistake; whereupon he (as it were) jumps up and down with righteous but joyful rage in reply (the whole play unfolds via letters between the various characters) is simply sublime. I cannot imagine better casting of any of the three principals, and and I have read the book by Hugh Whitemore (another underpraised genius, author of Breaking The Code in which Derek Jacobi was originally cast to perfection as Alan Turing).

Be seeing you.


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