The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Forgotten Man

Hero time again, and possibly a controversial choice. Chris Langham.

Chris has had a pretty remarkable career. He wrote for Spike Milligan and the Muppets, he fails not to giggle at Michael Palin in The Life Of Brian, he was one of the Not The Nine O’Clock News team. He wrote and starred in Kiss Me Kate, one of those shows where nobody appreciated how good it was at the time. He starred in the sublime People Like Us. He was BBC 4’s Mr Dramatized Biography.

He was one of those peripheral comedy people in the 80’s – someone who was always good, but who, for some reason, wasn’t getting the parts. As it turns out, it’s because Chris had troubles with drink and Bolivian marching powder. But he was still brilliant; his After Dark segments of Alas Smith And Jones were (if you’ll overlook the cliche) a masterclass of comic timing.

And, a few years ago, he wrote and acted in Help, one of the wisest, funniest, most honest, most moving sitcoms ever. It probably won’t ever be repeated, which is a tragedy, not just for viewers, not just for Chris, but particularly for Paul Whitehouse who gave a lifetime-best performance. In fact, he gave dozens of lifetime-best performances. The whole show, performance and writing, was stunning.

But then, just as he was getting Seven Second Delay off the ground, he did something which was, to say the least, mind-bogglingly stupid. Something which made him tabloid pariah number one. Something which ended his career just as it was getting started.

But he’s done the time, he’s more than paid the price, and I, for one, would love to see another show written by him or starring him. And I’d love to work with him. Because he’s still a hero.

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