Monday, 9 November 2009


It has been eight years since the first Harry Potter came out and as my boys are old enough to take themselves to the cinema, I no longer have to suffer the likes of Dumbledore, Snape and Malfoy.

One of the reasons that I didn’t enjoy the movies, or indeed, most British movies aimed at children and containing children, is because the kid actors make me cringe. I know it’s really unfair as they are children and being mean about them or to them isn’t really the done thing, but they are always so flipping posh and precocious, even when they are trying to be street urchins.

Virtually all child actors in this country come out of the luvvie-factory known as the stage school, costing their aspirational parents (who nearly made it to the top, you know, once), an arm and a leg. They are schooled in the multi-disciplinary show business arts of dance, music and theatre, so that any specific raw talent is spread thinly across all disciplines with any sparkle, idiosyncrasies or character wiped out, to prepare them for a life of pretending to be someone else.

And all those who don’t have their jagged ‘cockney sparra’ vowels smoothed down for received pronunciation are forever left to stew in the ever-stirring and not mutually exclusive vats of Eastenders, The Bill and once upon a time, Grange Hill.

I know there’s a lot wrong with America but the kids that end up on the screen over there tend to be ten times more convincing than their counterparts this side of the Atlantic. When I was a child watching Little House on the Prairie I thought I was looking at reality. Nowadays – we have the likes of Frankie Muniz and the rest of the young cast in Malcolm in the Middle who are all phenomenal, as are child actors Abigail Breslin and Dakota Fanning.

I would like to think better of our young thespians, really I would, and recently caught the very rude but very funny Inbetweeners, a comedy about some boys in sixth form. The boy that plays Will is fantastic. I googled him, thinking he was a stage school brat. He’s no brat and never was. He’s 25 years old.

So – to play a convincing British teenage nerd with all sorts of social hang-ups, it is necessary to hire someone of 25. No doubt if a stage school brat were hired, it would take all the self-control he could muster to stop him expressing his angst through the medium of song and dance.

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