Let's really get to grips with these credits

The Week In Arts

Share

Actors are aghast. Each week in
The Stage, the letters column resounds to their fury. The controller of BBC1, Lorraine Heggessey, has said that she fears that credits at the end of a programme are of interest only to actors and their families, bore the viewers, and encourage them to switch channels. The performers, fearful that this means that actor credits will soon disappear, retort that credits are the only way that the public and (perhaps more importantly) casting directors can make a note of their identity after admiring their performance.

Actors are aghast. Each week in The Stage, the letters column resounds to their fury. The controller of BBC1, Lorraine Heggessey, has said that she fears that credits at the end of a programme are of interest only to actors and their families, bore the viewers, and encourage them to switch channels. The performers, fearful that this means that actor credits will soon disappear, retort that credits are the only way that the public and (perhaps more importantly) casting directors can make a note of their identity after admiring their performance.

But one thing about the estimable Lorraine Heggessey's argument puzzles me. The boring credits rule doesn't seem to apply to everyone. I watched EastEnders this week, and sure enough as the credits rolled (very quickly) the screen was split and a continuity announcer talked about another programme, which was previewed on one half of the split screen. But then something odd happened. Both the split screen and the continuity announcer vanished. And we were treated to an old-fashioned, full screen climactic credit, which told us that the programme's executive producer was Mal Young.

Strange, that. If we don't need reminding who played Dirty Den or Sharon or Janine, why do we need reminding which TV executive produced the show? The executive producer, incidentally, would also have final responsibility for when to split and when not to split the screen. Let's be consistent here. If viewers find the names of actors boring, they must find the names of executive producers just as tedious.

Credits have long been a rather quaint idea. I noticed on EastEnders that the properties buyer was among the credits. Is that strictly necessary? Do properties buyers also need the publicity for their future careers? In films, of course, the credits are even more ludicrous. I don't just mean the gaffer, best boy and dolly grip. Until this week I had not heard of "fake shemp". But that, too, is a job and a credit, though not one to die for. It's someone whose face is not seen on screen, has no lines, and, according to Hollywood folklore, is taken from an occasion in which a stand-in was used to finish the Three Stooges films after the death of the actor Shemp Howard.

To lose such lunatic credits is to lose a piece of showbusiness history. I suggest to broadcasters that we keep the credits for actors and directors. The public might just be interested. We must also keep a couple of those bizarre jobs. The public might just be amused. But we can lose the names of all TV executives. The public couldn't care less.

Another award, another triumphant farce

It will soon be time for the Laurence Olivier awards. The categories I enjoy most in the Oliviers - or, more accurately, laugh at the most - are the awards for opera.

We have best production and best new production. And this year, as every year, the nominations are shared between the Royal Opera House and the English National Opera. Orlando at the ROH will be up against The Trojans at the ENO, for example.

Would it be churlish of me to spoil the party and point out that only West End venues are eligible for the Olivier awards, that there are only two dedicated opera houses in the West End and that one or the other will always win an award?

The occasional opera production at a theatre, or perhaps at the dance house Sadler's Wells, will creep in from time to time, but on the whole the English National Opera and the Royal Opera House take buggins turn. And then they can boast that they are Olivier winners.

What a triumph. What a farce.

The Royal Shakespeare Company's new plan to put on some cheap ticket performances with understudies in the main roles is an interesting one. From April, there will be an understudy in key roles in Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and King Lear.

It will certainly please the understudies who will get some exposure, and any idea which means cheaper tickets is to be welcomed. With tickets priced at just £5, schoolchildren and students should find it particularly attractive.

But I do wonder how it will play at the box office. I try to imagine myself asking: "Could I have a ticket for whatsisname as Macbeth? You know, the guy who you reckon is not quite ready yet for the starring role." I just might talk myself out of buying the ticket.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: IT Cloud Support Engineer

£25000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a team player who likes...

Recruitment Genius: Skilled Machinist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of additional skilled machini...

Recruitment Genius: Toolmaker

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of additional skilled toolmak...

Langley James : Head of IT; e-commerce; Blackburn; up to £55k

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Langley James : Head of IT; e-commerce; Blackburn; ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Sting may be in for a shock when he tries to save his Broadway musical

David Lister
 

David Cameron’s immigration speech: I broke my promise; this time will be different

John Rentoul
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game