The vast amount of talent we have in this country only recently dawned on me – not so much by watching Britain’s Got Talent, but from the arsenal at the disposal of British film and television. Our spectrum of thespians is so great that many of our actors have succeeded across the pond, trying their luck with American audiences. Their talent and skill has allowed them to blend into popular American shows and star in American films, without having to play a chiefly British character forced to mention ‘tea’ or ‘bottoms’ every few seconds.
From the small screen to the big, there are an exceptional number of ‘Typically British’ stars acting alongside Americans, or even in a range of roles with put-on accents in respectable roles in the American film and TV machine. They’ve perfected accents ranging from the West Baltimore drawl to the nasal LA twang, and now they are among the biggest stars on American TV. Why the love affair with British film and TV stars, then? Some cynics think it’s the cheaper fees British stars demand for their services, but I believe that a cut-glass English accent goes a long way in America, capable of fooling unsuspecting Americans into detecting brilliance where there is none, and leading to greater job opportunities for our English stars wanting to cast off the constraints of typically British roles.
The great thing about acting is the chance to play someone very different, and the American industry offers these opportunities in abundance. British stars are able to avoid previously restrictive English roles and demonstrate their thespian abilities and dialectal manipulation talents to wider audiences. Film and TV does not have to be dominated by Americans, and British actors are proving just as talented and gifted as any of the natives. We have Hugh Laurie in House, Dominic West and Idris Elba in The Wire, Marianne Jean-Baptiste on Without a Trace, and Rob Pattinson leaving fans dreaming about his Vampiric paleness in Twilight. It’s always good to see Brits doing well amongst strong competition, and here’s to the recognition of our national talent in the world’s biggest entertainment industries.