David Lister: Bridget the funny yummy mummy?

Share
Related Topics

When the history of this newspaper comes to be written, which I hope won't be for quite a while yet, one item sure to be counted among the glories will be Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones column. It started off not as a glory, actually, not even as a page lead, but an undiscovered little gem at the foot of a page. Elevation to more senior status followed, then a book, then two movies and worldwide success.

Now, a third movie is being planned. I know that before the first one was cast, Helen Fielding had Patsy Kensit in mind as a possible to play her heroine. But the eventual choice of Renée Zellweger was the better one. She captured not just Bridget's ditziness, but also the sometimes poignant angst beneath the overtly comic singleton worries.

For me, the one failing of the two very good films was that they ignored, almost entirely, one of the great strengths of the original columns: the chats about life, love, the universe and shoes between Bridget and her girlfriends. They mixed humour with astute social observation and not a little anger. I hope that the next film will include more of them. I'm certainly delighted that it's going to be made, and believe that while Bridget was the epitome of Nineties singleton London, both she and Fielding's humour transcend time and place.

Not everyone takes that view. One commentator argued that Bridget is past her sell-by date, asking: "How can the ageing Bridget have the same appeal as her younger, more winsome self?" Well, there's more to being appealing than being winsome, even if that's a truth that usually evades Hollywood and the film industry generally.

It's said that the new film will follow Bridget's attempts to have a baby before it is too late. Fielding had two babies in her forties, and if anyone can find some comic truths in that situation, she can. No, the ageing Bridget won't have the same appeal as her younger self. She will have a different appeal, in some ways a more interesting appeal, certainly an appeal that will bring a welcome change for film-goers. Films exploring the comic potential of slightly zany, slightly happy, slightly desperate women in early middle age trying to have a baby tend to be thin on the ground.

I met Zellweger before the first Bridget Jones film was released, and she told me how she had been working at a publishing company to be able to empathise more fully with Bridget's choice of career. That may have been taking method acting a stage too far. A few long lunches in Soho restaurants would have told her most of what she needed to know. I'm not sure how she will get into character for the new plot. But I'm looking forward to it. If it mixes humour, social observation and poignancy as Fielding can do brilliantly, it could extend the franchise for several years, and force the film world to address themes it has generally avoided.

Meanwhile, Helen Fielding is working on a Bridget Jones musical. That, too, should be a treat. But I hope that, between the romantic moments, Helen gives us plenty of scenes just featuring the girls together. And I also hope that, alongside the comedy, she gives us some sad songs.

Public art is not to everyone's taste

Antony Gormley is one of our most imaginative artists, and his use of the fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square, to allow members of the public to express themselves for an hour at a time, has won plaudits everywhere. Well, nearly everywhere. One person appears to be unimpressed, one rather important person. Nicholas Penny, director of the National Gallery, which is situated within spitting distance of the plinth, deplores the whole idea.

He said in an interview: "The conversion of the fourth plinth into a soapbox or theatrical stage may be high-minded in intention, but it is symptomatic of this pervasive antagonism to architectural order." Dr Penny also said that the square was no longer an area of "civilised reflection", had deteriorated due to noise from frequent public events, and "levels of civil behaviour there are incredibly low".

The solution is simple. Dr Penny should himself have an hour on the plinth. He should use it to hold up a banner that says: "For real art and some civilised reflection enter the art gallery behind me. Admission free."

Bear of very little patience for pursuit

I caught up this week with Simon Russell Beale's highly affecting performance as the king Leontes in The Winter's Tale at London's Old Vic. The production by Sam Mendes was delightful.

But one of Mr Mendes's decisions did surprise me. The Winter's Tale contains the most famous stage direction in English literature: "Exit, pursued by a bear." I always think that Shakespeare must have chuckled at the potential difficulties for directors when he wrote that. It is not a funny moment as Antigonus, the character pursued by a bear, is torn apart by the animal. Yet it is impossible for the audience not to laugh, when an actor in a bear's costume comes on to the stage.

They did indeed chuckle at the Old Vic, but then Sam Mendes did something rather strange. As the stage darkened, the bear and the man he should have been pursuing walked off in different directions. Exit pursued by a bear, after said bear has been for his afternoon stroll.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron visiting a primary school last year  

The only choice in schools is between the one you want and the ones you don’t

Jane Merrick
Zoë Ball says having her two children was the best thing ever to happen to her  

Start a family – you’ll never have to go out again

John Mullin
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn