To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Tennant is right — the public doesn't care about what famous people think


Hats off to David Tennant. There are numerous reasons to pay tribute to the excellent actor, and in no particular order, a former Doctor Who and one of the finest Hamlets of his generation. But this time he has been impressive, breathtaking even, off stage rather than on.

The actor was asked in an interview for his thoughts on the Scottish referendum. He said that it would be wrong of him to comment as he left Scotland a long time ago. Then he declared that there is “nothing more odious than actors foisting their opinions around.”

He was, of course, aware that some of our most distinguished actors have done just that on the question of Scottish independence. Dame Judi Dench, Sir Patrick Stewart, Helena Bonham Carter and many others came out in favour of the No campaign in an open letter from public figures. Has anyone anywhere ever used the word ”odious” in even the vaguest proximity to Dame Judi before? Not even national treasures are safe from contempt by Tennant (right) for actors foisting their opinions around.

It’s a brave statement, coming from a man who on a very regular basis must have to meet and work with opinion-foisting actors. He may have to defend the use of that word “odious” over many a green-room coffee.

But he is not just brave, he is right. There is simply no logic that demands that an undecided voter in the Scottish independence referendum should be swayed by the views of Helena Bonham Carter or indeed Dame Judi Dench, not to mention Cliff Richard and Mick Jagger, who also signed the open letter. Star-struck adolescents or pre-pubescents might care what their heroes think. But should mature admirers of acting  talent endow those performers with political  expertise and insight?

And yet for some years now there has been no major national or international issue, be it independence for Scotland, the invasion of Iraq, fracking, homelessness or HS2, that is not accompanied by opinion-foisting actors. It is so frequent, so much a part of the national debate, that we have ceased even to remark on it, or notice its inherent absurdity.


It would help if the actors accompanied their opinions with a phrase or two explaining why their opinions have a special resonance, what specialist knowledge or experience they have. But they seldom do. A famous face is thought to be sufficient. We have accepted this faintly ludicrous situation for way too long. Charisma and great technique on stage and screen does not give any extra worth, or any worth at all, to a political opinion.

Tennant goes perhaps a little too far in his striking choice of language. Odious indicates something hateful, even evil. Actors expressing opinions on matters outside their professional competence are certainly not guilty of wickedness. But his sentiment is correct. The habit of actors foisting their opinions around is not odious. It is just a glorious irrelevance.

O’Toole’s death scene is so brilliant that we cut it

A piece in this paper a couple of days ago reported on the late Peter O’Toole’s last major film role, in the still-to-be-released Katherine of Alexandria. The director Michael Redwood said: “He does a death scene which we had to cut in the end. You can literally see the life drain out of one eye and then the other, which is a long one-and-a-half-minute shot of him lying on the ground. It’s a great shot because he is smiling just as he dies.” Had to cut?! But it sounds like an unforgettable piece of acting. The rest of the film must be pretty remarkable if such a scene could end up on the cutting-room floor.

Walk out but remember to leave your pint

The other week I defended the right of audience members to walk out if they so wished. On the Edinburgh Fringe, one punter has not just walked out of comedian Andrew Maxwell’s show, he emptied a pint of beer on the performer en route. That’s a gesture too far, I think... Meanwhile, reader Mike Abbotts alerts me to the case of the two women who walked out of David Baddiel’s show Fame, Not the Musical because it was not Fame the Musical.

Jihadi John and his fellow Isis fighters from the UK are flippant, fanatical... and distinctly British
Grant asylum to migrants who arrive close to death – but don’t be surprised if it inspires more tragedies  

React Now

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

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff

Letters: No vote poses difficult questions – so why rush?

Independent Voices
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits