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

Share

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.

READ MORE:
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ed Balls has ruled out a return to politics - for now  

For Labour to now turn round and rubbish what it stood for damages politics even more

Ian Birrell
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?