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

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

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Errors & Omissions: A widow’s tale with an unexpected twist

John Rentoul

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing