Monday, 19 August 2013

John Bacchus

I have always had this imaginative understanding of England--I think that it is brimming with celebrities, overflowing with the highly talented, and that they must be, of course, of course, out and about in the streets and I could just turn a corner and walk right into Emma Thompson. This idea is somehow also related to my belief that English teachers are imbued with holy connections to the land of their namesake, on speaking terms with Kenneth Branagh, and why not Alan Rickman, for good measure.

As it is, I have recently finished a television series called Inspector George Gently, which is set in Durham in the 1960s and revolves around the amiable and determined Inspector George Gently and his restless sergeant John Bacchus. The episodes are well-written, exploring the tumultuous sixties and their social consequences in a world at a crossroads. My favorite character is John Bacchus--admittedly a disappointing character to like, proving time and again to be blatantly sexist, racist, classist, and misogynist, only too happy to indulge in prejudices against the people he meets. He is sometimes professional, though an excellent copper, and a terrible husband and father. I realize by now you think there is not much left to like, but I can only say that he is a redeemable character, which always intrigues me. Lee Ingleby does an excellent job of portraying a nuanced and enigmatic man demonstrating a growing awareness of his flaws, and he takes very small steps toward his necessary redemption. Hats off to the writers of that show.

I had been going on and on about this for the past few days to Natalie, who had never heard of it, and because we were in Durham, I pointed out that the final scenes of the last episode were shot in the cathedral. Now that I was here, in the very same city, I one evening found myself in the Market Pub with Natalie and Fran and his friends, and who should I meet but the man of the hour, Lee Ingleby himself. I have never been starstruck before, but I saw him and stopped completely in my tracks, staring rudely. I managed at last a "A-are you Lee Ingleby?"
He looked surprised. "Yes,  I am."
"I watch Inspector George Gently!" I held out my hand, and we shake. "I can't believe I'm meeting you!"
My heart was beating in my ear and I cannot recall precisely what I said, but I know for certain I gave him a rundown of all the movies he had ever participated in (again, he was surprised at the breadth of my pointless TV trivia) and he told me they were just wrapping up the series in Durham and had only a few more scenes to shoot. He also introduced me to his co-star Simon Hubbard who plays the henpecked PC Taylor.
I finally stammered out, "C-can I take a picture of you?"
He hesitated. "Will you be in it?"
"Oh, yes, yes," I countered quickly, trying to assure him I did not mean to take a picture 'of him' but 'with him.'
"Then of course."

Therefore my imagined England has proven true after all. It's chock-full of celebrities, just waiting to be found. Next time I'll be expecting cream tea with Tom Hiddleston. See you in London.


Nard said...

I love this!! So well deserved.

Sanna Gabriel said...

Thanks! I was so excited to see him. He probably thought I was a little weird.