Rev Blantyre gets his revenge

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Amanda Truslove and Rick Firth have a partnership problem which may be unique even in today's mixed-up world.

Many pairs are living together without being married. Amanda and Rick may possibly be married without actually living together. The trouble is, they don't even know if they are married or not.

It happened like this. Amanda and Rick are actors. They are not famous. You probably wouldn't recognise either of them. But they do quite well, getting small parts in police dramas, the occasional commercial, some radio work. And working as characters in soaps.

It was when they appeared in a soap together that they got married.

"It was in a scene set at a wedding," explains Amanda. "We weren't actually the important characters - most of the action was being played out in the congregation - but we were the bride and groom and the camera kept coming back to us, and it stayed on us for the vital bit of the marriage ceremony - you know, where the knot gets tied. Do you take this woman, and all that. And we went through the whole thing."

Yes, but hold on, that doesn't make them married. Millions of actors have got married in films and it was never for real. They said the words, but they weren't married, because they were being married by an actor!

"Yes," sighs Rick Firth, "but what if the actor was also a clergyman?"

How's that again?

"The actor who played the part of the clergyman in the soap was Kenneth Blantyre. He's an old-established character actor who specialises in elderly lawyers and clergymen. Well, it turns out that before he became an actor, Kenneth was a clergyman, and he was never defrocked or deconsecrated or whatever the word is."

"So," continues Amanda, "presumably anything he still does as a clergyman is still valid. Therefore, presumably, when he married us in the TV soap, he really married us for real!"

Hold on. Are you saying that because a real clergyman was asking you these questions instead of a fake one, that makes your answers real?

"Well," says Amanda, "that's what we're not sure of. We can't get anyone to make a ruling on this. We went to the Marriage Guidance Bureau, or whatever it's called, and asked them if we were married or not, but it turns out that they are equipped to do everything about marriage except define it. We then went to the Church of England, and they seemed to think it might be valid, especially if the `vicar' had been paid for it. We even went to the National Council for Civil Liberties, but as it wasn't to do with police corruption or racial discrimination they didn't seem interested."

"Then," continues Rick, "we went to Equity, who seemed quite interested in the case, but it turned out they were only interested in the financial angle. They were anxious to make sure, if the marriage was genuine, that the `vicar' was paid twice, once for acting, once for getting us married."

But surely this problem must have come up before. And if so, Equity must know the ins and outs of it.

"It seems that there have been other cases before, but not many. And the sinister thing is that they all concern the same actor: Kenneth Blantyre. He has often married characters in films, playing the part of a clergyman. He is now claiming that they are all genuinely married, because he is a genuine reverend!"

But surely two people can't get married if they have no intention of getting married.

"You'd think so. But Blantyre says that a lot of `genuine' church weddings contain no genuine intention, and he points to the high rate of quick divorce to bear him out."

"It seems," says Amanda, "that Blantyre came through a shattered marriage himself, and has been conducting a sort of revenge campaign ever since, by `marrying' people on screen and now revealing that they were really married after all."

"It's a sort of matrimonial version of the Aids Avenger story," says Rick. "Instead of going round giving people HIV, this guy is going round infecting people with marriage. It may be that I have ended up being married to a stranger. Look, I get on perfectly well with Amanda and that, as an actor, but I don't want to marry her. I mean, I'm gay for one thing."

"And I'm living with someone else, for a second thing," says Amanda.

What do you think? Are Amanda and Rick really married? If so, phone yes. Or is the clergyman really guilty? If so, phone no. We'll print your verdict tomorrow!