1p Book Review – I, An Actor by Nicholas Craig

Nige recommends the ‘autobiography’ of one of our greatest thespians…

‘Acting is the supreme test of physical and mental courage. It is like climbing Everest single-handed in the dark. It is like painting the Sistine Chapel with a shark on your back. It is like being asleep on a helter-skelter with no pyjamas and a hangover…’

Thus the ‘absolutely bloody passionate’ actor Nicholas Craig in his searingly honest account of the thespian’s art, I, An Actor [available for 1p on Amazon]. If you haven’t come across this brilliant spoof, concocted by performer Nigel Planer and writer Christopher Douglas (who went on to create that supremely seedy hack Ed Reardon), then seek it out.

It’s the funniest, most acute anatomy of luvvy absurdity I know of. Even the pictures are funny – and the reviews on the back:

‘Disloyal, vindictive, bitter, scandalous and insulting’ – Sheridan Morley, The Times.

‘He could almost be doing a send-up of a theatrical biography’ – Yorkshire Post.

‘Ha bloody ha’ – The Stage.

Douglas/Planer nail the more tiresome mannerisms of a certain kind of actor with deadly accuracy – the faux modesty alternating with preposterously inflated claims for his art/craft, the faux blokiness alternating with fey and winsome ‘jokes’ (identifiable by the exclamation marks), the bonhomie and hissy-fit touchiness, the fawning ingratiation and vicious bitchiness, the obsessive elaboration of every detail of the career accompanied by shrugging protestations that none of it amounts to anything, the toe-curling anecdotes and slices of theatrical lore, all jostle together in an excruciatingly camp confection that out-Callows Callow and out-Shers Sher.

Planer developed ‘Nicholas Craig’ on TV in The Naked Actor and a series of masterclasses for aspiring young actors (including one for TV weather forecast presenters) – and he popped up again a few years ago on BBC4, with another masterclass on How To Be Old. The essence of Craig, though, is in the book.

Would you like to recommend one of the thousands of books that can be bought online for a penny (or a cent)? Email your submission to editorial@thedabbler.co.uk

Share This Post

About Author Profile: Nige

Cravat-Wearer of the Year Nige, who, like Mr Kenneth Horne, prefers to remain anonymous, is a founder blogger of The Dabbler and has been a co-blogger on the Bryan Appleyard Thought Experiments blog. He is the sole blogger on Nigeness, and (for now) a wholly owned subsidiary of NigeCorp. His principal aim is to share various of life's pleasures.

2 thoughts on “1p Book Review – I, An Actor by Nicholas Craig

  1. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    October 4, 2012 at 15:19

    Is there a chapter on thesp’s parents Nige, suppliers of shoulders, crying on for the use of, unpaid script readers, recipients of the trade scuttlebutt including who’s in, who’s out, who can’t act for toffee, who’s only there because her mum is an actress, who’s snorting coke again, who will shag anything in trousers with the word Director in front of his name and the many minor quibbles included in any trade talk.
    I see that, once more, Carshalton and environs figure prominently, this time in the Megaluvvy stakes, Sgt Howie leading the pack. As well as one big cheese bean counter, a brace of musicians plus one stunning willowy brunette, but that’s another story. The poor old school, unfortunately like our local Palais, is no longer with us.

  2. nigeandrew@gmail.com'
    October 7, 2012 at 18:45

    Stone me Malty! I’d no idea Elmwood had such illustrious alumni. The best my place (Wall County) cld do was Nick Ross and Chris Woodhead, far as I know…

Comments are closed.