On PM the other day, Eddie Mair quizzed the leader of Essex County Council as to the sincerity of his desire to inaugurate a Helen Mirren Day.
It turned out not only was this intended to be a local celebration of the Dame’s birthplace of Ilford, but also the occasion for a bank holiday. The whole country, no less, would be given the day off work to join in an annual commemoration of the lady who, in the film The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, rolls naked on a chopping board and shoots Michael Gambon in the head for swallowing a mouthful of roast penis.
Anyway, it’s long been the case that Britain has lagged behind the rest of Europe as regards its tally of national holidays, so why stop here? Three suitable candidates for similar canonisation immediately spring to mind.
1) MICHAEL ASPEL
Celebrations would include, at 12pm every year, Mike appearing live across all BBC radio networks to recreate the bit in THE WAR GAME when he announces the end of the world in a nuclear conflagration; an ASK ASPEL roadshow wherein our host tours the country sitting in a recreation of the original studio set on the back of a flatbed truck; a turn-the-tables affair involving former Miss Worlds putting Mike on the spot as to his views on environmental conservation and the threat of third world Communist insurgency; and local garden fetes and street parties where everyone has to dress up as a red book.
2) MADELINE SMITH
Here seen on the set of PUNCHLINES in 1983, Madeline would be honoured chiefly in an annual pageant organised by Jeremy Beadle involving various character actors donning period costumes to recreate elements of her life in front of badly-Chromakeyed hand-drawn sets. This would include Sylvester McCoy and Mike Savage recreating that bit at the start of Live And Let Die where M turns up at Bond’s house only to find 007 running over a few points with Madeline under the eiderdown (Sylvester displaying his versatility by playing both Madeline and the eiderdown).
3) DAVID JACOBS
Revolving around a giant carnival held in David’s home town of Streatham (helmed by Matt Baker), celebrations to mark the life and work of the erstwhile chief announcer on Radio CEAC in Ceylon would all be drawn from within that cabinet marked The David Jacobs Anecdote Collection. From a thousand giant speakers would pump Our Kind Of Music, interspersed with audio clippage of David recalling meeting obscure theatrical impresarios, extracts from JUKE BOX JURY where he had to break up a fight between the likes of Beryl Reid and Ray Davies, and that episode of ANY QUESTIONS when the venue was trashed live on air after an audience member, incensed by the presence on the panel of Enoch Powell, threw a stone through a window.