I’ve got a YouTube channel for Mary Christmas. There’s also a Livestock/Mothers Uncovered one – neither of which do all that much in terms of numbers. I don’t know how people manage to create these multi-million subscriber channels when they’re talking about their bags and outfits but I’m obviously way out of their demographic. I only notice them when they stumble into my arena via The Guardian Weekend in the shape of Tanya Burr. I watched one of her videos, well about half of it, I got depressed looking at her putting on her make-up ten billion times more competently than I could ever manage it. She’s probably near the top of the Premiership, the reigning queen seeming to be Zoella.
However, she has recently been in a play, Confidence, at The Southwark Playhouse, a small London theatre. There was a quote doing the rounds that said all her subscribers would fill the theatre for 89 years. This startling point couldn’t be realised as the play only ran for a few weeks, but it gives us pause for thought, mostly about how many more people look at YouTube than go to the theatre.
A lot of actors were very cross that she’d leapfrogged into this role ahead of those who scrimped and saved to do their drama school training and trawled the audition rounds for years. I’m sort of one of those, both in viewpoint and experience, although I haven’t been on the ‘scene’ for over ten years now, being a mum and not living in London any more. I have a plan to go back to it some day, I used to call it a ‘reverse Glenda’ (as in Jackson), although she’s done her own ‘reverse Glenda’ by turning her back on politics to return to acting. Damn her (I coulda been a contender….). In my case, I’ve moved from performance into social activism, but same ballpark.
I’d imagine if I was still living in London, trawling the auditions as some friends of mine are, I would have been much crosser. Hell, I’m cross enough about all the actors/comedians I worked alongside popping up on all the panel shows! Although I’m too old for the part anyway – I played a similar kind of role back in the 90s. Nepotism and bum-on-seat casting has been going on for decades, dear Tanya didn’t start it. The point should surely be, not the fairness or not, but whether she was any good. Impossible to get an accurate picture from the reviews. She’s clearly comfortable with public speaking, so I’d imagine she was confident in Confidence. It might not have been the most subtle of performances, but it didn’t sound the most subtle of parts.
Good on her for having a go. It’s no worse, and indeed braver, than the slew of faces thrown up by Love Island/TOWIE/Made in Chelsea/Big Brother et al we get clogging the channels all the time. If we create the space, someone will fill it, there’s no doubt about that.