April 10th, 2008

breaking bad

Spall, Walliams, Howerd

I've seen Rafe Spall in two dramas this week - the concluding part of 'He Kills Coppers' and in 'Frankie Howerd: Rather You than Me' on BBC4 last night. He is, as you might guess from his name, Timothy Spall's son. He seems to have inherited his dad's talent, because both those performances were excellent I thought. Also he's a lot better looking than his dad, which doesn't hurt. You might have seen him in Hot Fuzz (one of the DCs) and as Rochester in Wild Sargasso Sea.

In 'Rather you than me' he played Frankie Howerd's long-term partner, Dennis Haymer, and p.o.v. character for the story. A very different character from any I have seen him play before. I think it's a challenge to play a thoroughly good person, and not be too sweet and weak, but I liked him so much in this.

It was interesting to see David Walliams trying to represent Frankie Howerd. I think he did a fair job, probably as good as anyone could have done. And the performance didn't ruin the show, so I think it was as much of a success as it could have been in the circumstances. But something was missing. The real Frankie Howerd had this massive sharp frightening charisma, which made me (personally) feel wary as well as engaged.

Like when he said something like 'No, don't laugh. Don't mock poor Francis. It's a sin to mock the afflicted.' Woah. You can read the words, Walliams can say them, but it's not the same.

Funnily enough, Walliams is a modern actor who does have something of that edge of 'I am a damaged person and I might do anything', but it's diluted and calmed in his case. More narcissistic and less tormented.