Power to the people and other comedy sayings

Roger Lloyd-Pack died of pancreatic cancer today. According to Cancer Research UK, sometimes it’s caused by drinking too much. Or by smoking. Or by gum disease. But as the man who played Trigger in Only Fools and Horses had long been elevated to the status of National Treasure don’t expect that to be discussed in the press any time soon. The Sun’s front page was taken-up not just with the headline Bonjour Trigger but also by the helpful explanation that Bonjour doesn’t mean goodbye except in a TV comedy show that last aired in 1991. That’s how funny the headline was. The sound of barrels being scraped is something everyone’s familiar with now, but this was above average scraping. We can get back to hating immigrants and trying to start a war with whoever shouldn’t be running Syria tomorrow.

Roger Lloyd-Peck, in character as Trigger.
Roger Lloyd-Peck, in character as Trigger.

Every paper I saw had the same nonsense in it, amusingly gauche things Trigger said. For years I went to the same pub as someone who worked with Roger Lloyd-Peck and said he was a lovely bloke. I’ve no reason to doubt it. What’s bugging me is the Guardian’s survey of writer’s earnings, which actually does have quite a lot to do with the sad news, or at least, with the way it’s being handled.

Apparently the average writer in the UK earns just £600 per year. This from the newspaper that pays £85 for an online piece and £285 for something they run in the paper version. As Claude Rains said in Casablanca when he shut Rick’s bar for illegal gambling and just before he was handed his winnings, I’m shocked. Shocked!

Every newspaper I saw continued in the same vein about Roger Lloyd-Peck. Apart from the Soaraway Scum through the Telegraph and the East Anglian Daily Times, the same stuff. “The world according to Trigger – some of his best moments.”  Then a little bit of filler regurgitating the hilarious malapropisms and plain wrong phrasing an actor spoke in a show that hasn’t been on for nearly a quarter century.

This is Funny. That’s Official

During a conversation about their schooldays the boys probe Trigger about his time at school when he banged his head on a sign which read ‘Mind Your Head.’ Trig answers with all the eloquence and rationality the viewers came to expect from him.

Uncle Albert: How did you walk into a mind your head sign? Didn’t you see it?

Trigger: Of course I saw it. But in those days I couldn’t read.

Oh my sides. The first time it was on TV it was funny. The script was so good that the fifth time you saw it it was still funny, delivered by good actors at home with the material they were using. But that’s what it was. A script. Delivered by actors. Not written by them, but by a man called John Sullivan, who died in 2011, who wrote the show along with Citizen Smith, a pseudo-Marxist revolutionary whose catchphrase was ‘power to the people.’ Sullivan liked a laugh, obviously.

Citizen Smith, played by Robert Lindsay.
Citizen Smith, played by Robert Lindsay.

Roger Lloyd-Pack was by all I’ve heard, a nice bloke. I liked his politics too. Roger Lloyd-Peck didn’t come up with these sayings any more than Bogart wrote ‘Play it, Sam.” But the avalanche of Triggerisms an actor’s death er, triggered doesn’t just miss the point. It confuses reality with fantasy, the substance with the delivery. The spin, the acting, with what went before.

Which seems to be the main purpose of media today including the newspaper which pretends to give it to you straight, the Guradina. At £85 a go comment isn’t quite free. But it’s pretty close.



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