TELEVISION / BRIEFING: The mood of the nation

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The Independent Culture
BBC2's offers a profile of the man the BBC corporate puffs are touting as the funniest man on television, RICHARD WILSON - A LIFE BEYOND THE GRAVE (8pm BBC2). His story is now familiar: after a brief career as a lab technician and many years as a respected actor and director, the 56-year-old Scottish son of a factory timekeeper achieved 'overnight' stardom as the pathologically cantankerous Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave. Acres of text have been filled with speculation about how Victor's dissatisfied demeanour captures the mood of the nation; the tabloids have even been running competitions to find the 'Victor Meldrew of your area'.

In Don Coutts's straightforward profile, Wilson drives round his native Greenock in a white Mercedes with fellow actor Gerard Kelly and succumbs to the odd bout of the luvvies ('I've always been a pooh-pooher of awards,' he reveals at one point). His Scottish accent apparently growing stronger by the minute, he reflects on how he has progressed since a teacher reacted to his ambition to be an actor with the words: 'Don't be stupid, boy, you can't speak.'

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