There on my television screen, in a somewhat surreal sequence, was Boris Johnson contemplating the women in his life. And suddenly before me appeared the famous Wyatt features: first eyes, then a nose and then a mouth, right into camera. Medium-range shot and then a close-up. Ah, we had faces then. And then I looked harder, and my blood turned to Freon. It was just a large photograph of me stuck on a 10ft projector screen. Couldn’t those cheapskates at Sky have got a goddamn actress instead of a Polaroid?
As it turns out, This England, the Kenneth Branagh series about my old friend Boris, is more Psycho than psychodrama. Someone in the make-up department seems to have thought they were remaking What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? The prosthetic mask Branagh wears makes Boris look like a burns victim. And what is that blond fright wig? Boris’s hair deserves an actor all of its own. In real life it sings, it dances, it stands up and takes a bow. In This England it doesn’t even move in a hurricane. And why are his shirts always tucked in? It amounts to the desecration of a national monument.
Branagh and I used to share a singing teacher. I like old Ken. Or rather I used to. He once invited me down to his film set when he was making a musical version of Love’s Labour’s Lost. We even danced together. I believe I wrote a puff piece about him. There is no gratitude in that industry. I mean, whatever happened to nepotism? Hollywood used to run on it. So I was less than gruntled to appear alongside Ken in the This England fright fest.
It wasn’t just that one appearance, either.