I loved listening to Ian McKellen the other day on Good Morning Britain. 

Deciding which news programme I watch or listen to in a morning is getting less and less difficult. I suppose the one I never watch is Breakfast on BBC 1. What the fuck is going on there?  It’s like some over-excited Mancunian sixth formers has been let loose to do their own news programme.  Just unwatchable.  Having said that, I think I may be doing a injustice to over-excited Mancunian sixth formers.

Sky News for me is much better.  I may stand alone, but I like Kaye Burley, Stephen Dixon and especially Gillian Joseph. All three are quite relaxed, but when they need to, they can up the ante and go for the jugular.  And each of those three presenters have different opinions which is so refreshing.The only problem with Sky New is it gets repetitive.

Radio 4’s Today Programme, for me, is consistently the best, but I listen to the least.  Good reporting, good interviews and they delve into the topics more thoroughly than the TV. My only problem is that we have a TV in the bedroom and the kitchen. ‘You get the radio on the TV!’ I hear you screaming.  I know, but for some inexplicable reason, I want pictures.  Despite my love of writing radio plays, I still like my news to be moving images.  The only time I really listen to the Today Programme is driving in my car.  Love it every time.

Now we get to Good Morning Britain, which is a bit like going to church, I Iike bits of it, even though I’m not a believer.  Generally the bits I like involve Piers Morgan or Suzanna Reid having a go at someone, normally someone who has come up with some ludicrous notion of how we can improve our society.  Most people probably know what I’m referring to – can’t call anyone a lady because it’s patronising, doing jazz hands instead of clapping, ban girls wearing skirts in schools … the list goes on.  I also enjoy when Piers Morgan and Suzanna Reid go head to head with each other. So when I inadvertently caught an interview with Ian McKellen, which was far from confrontational, I was pleasantly surprised – I’d go even further and say I really enjoyed it. 

I first heard of Ian McKellen when I was at college and he was with the Prospect Theatre Company doing both Richard 11 and Edward 11 at I believe the Piccadilly Theatre. Both these productions were raved about by everyone and really catapulted Ian McKellen to being one of the giants of British theatre. But what impressed me most about the interview on Good Morning Britain was this 80-year-old actor who still loved his job and still relished being on stage.  There was an enjoyment in his work, that I certainly know was there when I started both in theatre and TV, but I think sadly has now disappeared. McKellen is older than I am, but we both entered the profession the same way by doing provincial repertory theatre where nobody got paid enough to live on, but everyone still wanted to go to work. I call it work, but it isn’t really work. The truth is I’d still do what I do, even if no one paid me.  I have to because I love it.

We are so lucky doing a job that we want to do – so enjoy it. I think every drama student, every crew member, every producer, every script editor … okay I’ll just say it, everyone that’s in the entertainment business, should enjoy it, irrespective how successful or not they are.  If you don’t like it why not go and do something else, just don’t depress the rest us by osmosis. The corridors of TV companies are now packed with long faced 20 somethings sub-dolts, who don’t enjoy what they do, because when they did their degree in media studies, they thought they’d be interviewing celebrities that only they’d heard of in some jungle far away.  Or coming up with fatuous stories for Corrie of Enders or …  Oh, wait a minute, that’s what they are doing.  And those who are in the business because they want to be, because they love acting, writing, directing, filming … whatever, they are finding the battle really hard. 

But the good news is it’s always been hard. It’s not new, like any war, the front just keeps shifting.

If you’re in this business you’re getting to get a knock back a day – at least. The only way is to get back up and tell yourself you’re going to prove them wrong. That doesn’t make you thick-skinned, being knocked back always hurts, but it does make you resilient.  Remember William Goldman’s famous saying – ‘Nobody knows anything.’  It’s so true. Just believe in what you’re doing and like Ian McKellen – fucking enjoy it!

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