So Danny Dyer has pronounced on the aftermath of the European Union referendum during Good Evening Britain – though striking a more sceptical tone on Brexit than in his 2015 opus The World According to Danny Dyer, where he stated: ‘They reckon corruption in the EU costs £99 billion a year. And these are the melts who want more control of our budgets. I bet they do.’*
The ‘viral’ nature of what is now known (by me) as the ‘Trotter monologue’ is well-established. But this is not the first instant of a Harold Pinter-championed actor using a television talk show to hawk his views on Europe.
In 1985, ten years after the previous European referendum, Thames Television convened an edition of its afternoon talk show Daytime to discuss Britain’s place in the Common Market. On the panel were opposing MEPs David Curry (Conservative, pro-EEC) and Bob Cryer (Labour, very angry about the harmonisation of lawnmower manufacture) – and Kenneth Williams (for whom Pinter contributed a well-received sketch in the revue Pieces of Eight).
Obviously Kenny was never shy of voicing his political opinions (and had been a Yes campaigner in 1975). But still, it is odd for a political discussion to be held between two elected representatives and the narrator of Willo the Wisp.
So in between audience comments like: ‘Why don’t they make our old age pensioners up to what the other countries get?’ (‘Good point’ – host Sarah Kennedy), and ‘Let’s forget about all the politics and not get itty-bitty about things,’ Williams has his say (starting about 6’30” in).
The erudition was arguably greater than that shown in the recent Dyer-Morgan showdown. ‘I don’t think at all that anyone who is progressive would be anything but European-minded,’ declares Carry on Doctor’s Dr Kenneth Tinkle.
‘The trading situation vis-à-vis us and Europe is in balance on a point of fact as what we’ve lost in the manufacturing section, we’ve gained on the oil and services base,’ Williams points out in response to one point from Cryer, barely even pausing to call him a ‘twat’ before citing a growth in trade with the EEC from £3bn to £21bn over the previous decade.
‘It is a misconception that we are a petrocurrency.’ Just to be clear, that was another thing said by the Jackanory regular in 1985, rather than by the Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men host. Sadly, though, Williams never did live to see the disabusing of his concluding prophecy: ‘We’re in for good – [in trademark nasal style] YESSSSSSSSS – you’ll never get anyone coming back from that.’
There was of course no Twitter in those days for such an appearance to be quickly memed**, and he didn’t swear once, so Rambling Syd Rumpo’s thoughts on Europe disappeared into the ether, and were forgotten even before the racing from Kempton began. At least until it reappeared on YouTube.
Still, if any moment would have ended up being made into a gif, it would have been the exchange when Kennedy wanders into the audience to elicit the views of a visiting German: ‘Are we very stubborn and insular do you think?’ ‘I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.’ [End of exchange]
* He goes on to doubt the official explanation of 9/11, lays into the Saudi Arabian regime, backs Vladimir Putin over Crimea, and declares: ‘Alien abductions have to be true.’ The EastEnders’ Mick Carter actor also calls Oswald Mosley a ‘fascist twat’, so the adjective-free David Cameron gets off lightly. Until he is described as ‘a man who looks like he’s wearing one of them (sic) cardboard masks of himself’.
** I don’t know what that is, but our social media people said using the word would get traction with key influencers.