The Fame Game

I was thinking about whether I’d like to be famous or not today.

Not that I’d get much choice in the matter, it’s the one thing that’s difficult to create for yourself (opposed to infamy), people either choose to admire you or not, there’s not much middle ground.

I imagine that lots of people would like to be famous, but I can’t decide if I would or not. Of course there are perks, there are rewards, there is the adulation that comes with being a recognized success and I guess the money.

But of course, like anything, I’d guess it’s a double edged sword.

I just watched the panorama report into Jimmy Saville and the failed Newsnight investigation for which the BBC is taking a hammering at the moment. I also had twitter open. As a scene came on the screen of Shane Richie presenting a Jim’ll Fix It tribute programme a wave of anger, vitriol and spite was levelled at Shane Richie. For a moment he became a hated figure, because of something he’d done to remember a man who, at the time, held fond memories for him. He presumably didn’t know about Saville’s past, the allegations, the horrifying facts that have now been revealed. But Shane Richie was portrayed by twitter as a horrible human being. A few twitter commentators have cast even more scorn on him, as Coleen Nolan, his ex-wife, apparently said Saville “perved” on her – but what knowledge do we have of a married couple’s relationship – who are we to judge Shane Richie.

I also commented on a tweet made by Fresh Meat actress Kimberly Nixon about University Challenge and she, rather sweetly replied. But looking through her twitter stream, after looking through Shane Richies, I saw a similar load of tweets, some lovely, some judgemental, some just quite rude. I checked other actors and comedians I admired, Richard Schiff, Martin Sheen, Mark Watson. All the same. What horrible people some of us are. Not all, some.

Would I want all that?

Of course it’s easy to misrepresent yourself on twitter, a misplaced word, comma or fullstop, an innocuous comment which said out loud would be nothing, can be misinterpreted, misrepresented and mistaken by people seemingly desperate to be furious about something.

Perhaps, some might say, if you put yourself under the spotlight that is fame that you deserve its dark accompaniment and that this level of scrutiny is what maintains balance and order and keeps the star’s feet on the ground.

But this just doesn’t ring true for me, I’ve been in a privileged position to have met some famous people and I have found them to be, on the whole, humble, pleasant, hardworking individuals, who have engineered themselves to the top of their profession by hard labour and incredible skill.  Sure there are some people who come across as arseholes (but may not be), and some who seem to have got there undeserved (when it may be deserved), but isn’t that representative of life, of a broad cross section of society.

So, back to fame. Would I want it?

Yes and no.

No, I’d hate to be scrutinised to that extent. I’ve directed a few plays and written a couple more and I find the reviews, even the good ones (when I search really hard) cut me as I amplify the negatives and erase the positives in my memory. I think I’d find it tiring and have admiration for people who can deal with it.

But yes. I’d like to be famous, but not in a recognisable in the street way. Maybe in a way similar to Daniel Kitson, or Alan Ayckbourn, or Nicholas Hyner, or another of my arty heroes, where 99% of people won’t know who I am, but 1% of the people who are really into what I do, do know who I am.

I’d like to be a tough answer to an obscure question on University Challenge rather than a phone in answer on an Ant & Dec show.

I’ve thought about it a bit and I think what I’d like is to build up 5,000 people who’d like to see something I do every year for £10. That’s the level of fame I’d like. Structured, controlled, refined and utterly impossible. And I think that’s an idea nicked from either Stewart Lee or Daniel Kitson, so it must be good.

That’s all for tonight, I’m off to the Canaries. Will write soon!

Night, Sam.

P.S. – This is a terrible blog post with a huge amount of assumptions, but hey, this is a blog, it’s gonna be self indulgent crap – best just to deal with it!

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