Put your talents in focus, Mr Fry

Share
Related Topics
STEPHEN Fry has disappeared, and everyone assumes (despite his protests to the contrary) that this is because he's depressed by the bad press he's been getting recently from theatre and television critics, and other vermin like myself - I mocked him in this column last week for being a computer buff. My father says it shows what strong stuff the royals are made of, and indeed Fry is supposed to be a chum of the Prince of Wales. If he could nip out of hiding and go and see the Prince to compare press slaggings I'm sure Stephen would feel better.

It's difficult for me to empathise with Fry because when I get bad press, it's usually to do with the characters I do on telly rather than personal attacks and, if the attacks are personal, I can hardly complain because I spent five years on Spitting Image being beastly about people. But the attacks on Fry have been virulently nasty. Even the strongest person would be rather bewildered.

Stephen's friends, to a man, say that he is personally kind, utterly generous and totally loyal. But professionally he has spread himself too thin. He is cleverer than all his peers, but he has never found his niche, and so has compensated by trying to do more different things than the rest of us put together. He should be head boy, the one young person that the older generation really like, because he is charming and polite, and can be really witty in the true sense of the word, rather than stupid or cruel like most of his peers, i e me. Instead, he is the boy at the back of the class with his hand up all the time saying "Please Sir! I know the answer to that and that and that - in fact I know the answer to everything Sir!" when he could and should be the quiet boy down the front working away and getting an A for his essay.

You can see this in his new sketch show, A Bit Of Fry And Laurie. Hugh Laurie has matured tremendously in the past 15 years, and is a brilliant portrayer of character, but Stephen has had too much going on and hence is stuck in the world of early Eighties Footlights. When a young student is saying to his audience "Picture for me, if you will in your loveliness, and bless you for doing so, a dog" he is acting out a very funny portrait of an older patronising professor-type. But when, 15 years on, that student has become an older professor-type himself, the same phrase ceases to be funny and appears only patronising, and critics are never more savage than when they feel patronised.

He has so much ability. I hope he comes out of hiding having decided what to do with it. If he decides to be an actor, I hope he writes films for himself, the real him, not the exaggerated him he's slipped into for us on television. If he writes books, I hope he gets confidence in his own ability and becomes the modern Wilde he deserves to be. If he works in television comedy, I hope he spends time working on a new, more mature relationship with Laurie, so they complement rather than burden each other, and I hope he stays off the flatulent botty jokes. But whatever he decides to do, I hope he concentrates on that, and nothing else. He would do well to heed the advice given to the brilliant Jewish wit, Gerard Hoffnung, by his headmistress: "The diversity of your many gifts is a danger. You must decide on one route, otherwise you will fail."

MY girlfriend says we have to join the Labour Party otherwise we are simply not proper members of the chattering classes. But I am terrified. I've slipped them money occasionally but never actually joined because I fear my local branch may be full of furious ex-students who frown a lot. Also I don't want to have to go to meetings and totally and utterly condemn things. Perhaps Tony Blair can institute "gilt-edged" membership for a thousand quid a year, and members can meet at each other's houses for cheese and wine, so we won't have to mix with the plebs. We could have a "guest oik" from a union to come along each month and charm us with his or her Northern accent. Also I'd want a block vote at conference worth a thousand normal votes, in the form of a snazzy little gold card which I could hold up nonchalantly, and everyone would look at me. Also they'd have to stop having conferences in Blackpool - the North is simply too chilly. What do you think Mr Blair?

React Now

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

SEN 1:1 Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified teache...

SEN Teachers and Support Staff

£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher or L...

English and Media Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English & Media Teacher - ...

Y1 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Y1 Teacher required for a So...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Young voters leave a polling station in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh  

Scottish referendum results: The independence question is resolved for a generation at least

Douglas Alexander
Labour Party leader Ed Miliband addresses the public and media as he walks in Edinburgh  

Scottish referendum: Now let’s redraw the map of English politics

Janet Street-Porter
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week