What do Gavin and Stacey, Mrs Biggs and the forthcoming BBC comedy Mr Stink all have in common? The answer, in case you don’t know, is Sheridan Smith. Because the actress has appeared in both Gavin and Stacey and Mrs Biggs, and was last week announced as part of Mr Stink’s cast too. Smith is clearly enjoying huge success of late (both on stage and television) and rightly so. She’s brilliant and proving herself to be extremely versatile. But I worry for Smith, because I think, sometimes, broadcasters and production companies can latch on to a ‘name’ – the hot talent of the moment – and cast them here, there and everywhere, clearly knowing that to do so will drive ratings. I worry because I think audiences can get bored – and annoyed – quite quickly of seeing the same faces too often.
It got me thinking whether broadcasters and production companies could and should be casting the net a bit wider when they are populating their shows with actors. Don’t get me wrong, I am not denying the talent of actors who are used regularly, but I do question whether it isn’t just a tad lazy on the part of the broadcasters and production companies. As Shameless creator Paul Abbott said back in 2010, shows can become “predictable” as a result of such casting.
With this in my mind, I have developed an ‘at risk’ register of actors, who, in my opinion, are in danger of becoming over-used (but not necessarily over-rated, I should add).
Feel free to add any names you think should be on it. Here are some to get you started:
- Sheridan Smith – for the reasons set out above. I love her, really I do. But I don’t want to become sick of the sight of her.
- Rupert Penry Jones – again, I like him and ITV’s Whitechapel is one of my favourite series in recent years, but with a fourth series commissioned, and Penry-Jones also appearing in a third series of Silk on the BBC, perhaps it’s a tad much. I’d hate to end up wishing for him to meet a grisly end in the fourth series of Whitechapel.
- Benedict Cumberbatch is definitely in the ‘at risk’ category. He is of course the face of the BBC’s Sherlock, and he was in Parade’s End too. No doubt he’s being lined up for others too. Surely there are other posh blokes we can watch?
- Hugh Bonneville – may be a little unfair, but with Downton, and his stints in Twenty Twelve, and also as part of the cast of Mr Stink with Sheridan Smith, he does seem to be everywhere.
- Simon Bird/Joe Thomas – stars of The Inbetweeners. It seems to me that these two are the ones that Channel 4 has decided to champion following the end of The Inbetweeners. Bird is in Friday Night Dinner, and Thomas is in Fresh Meat, which recently began a second run. I predict we will see more of these in the months to come, and could end up wishing we weren’t.
- Jack Whitehall. He has found himself cast in Bad Education on BBC3 (which, admittedly, he wrote) and is in Fresh Meat on Channel 4. He is at serious risk of being over used. And, in my opinion, he is also over-rated.
So these are my thoughts? What about yours?