1 9 9 0 – 1 9 9 2 (UK)
10 x 20 minute episodes
This series of mock documentaries starred Nigel Planer as the titular character, one of Britain’s classical actors who let viewers into the secrets of his profession (and his life).
Planer spent four years perfecting the self-centred upper-class character – portraying the actor in radio shows and several manic stage shows – before approaching TV bosses with his idea for a new comedy series.
The initial five episodes ranged from Craig’s early days in rep at Bexhill-On-Sea to his legendary appearance in Pardon My Privates at the Garrick, with the actor explaining his passion for detail – including such techniques as correct punting skills in Oxbridge and the use of the waistcoat in Lancashire drama.
He also revealed his wealth of television experience (“the means by which the contemporary performer peddles his wares to the peasant of the present”) ranging from his role of the punk son ‘Gob’ in Oh No, It’s The Neighbours! to Chief Constable John Blatchford in The Long and Friendly Arm.
Craig’s monologue was cleverly dissected with reminiscences from his colleagues. Anton Rodgers, Anthony Sher and Simon Callow all agreed that it was “difficult” to define the qualities needed by a thesp, while Anna Massey found it all “torture”.
We also learned that “indisposed” is an actor’s euphemism for drunk, and “resting” means they’ve had so little work they’ve taken a job stacking shelves at Tesco (although if approached they’ll claim it’s research for a part).
Written by Christopher Douglas, this witty series – a typically gentle British comedy – trod a fine line between naturalism and satire.