“Americans: what are their assumptions about people from the United Kingdom?” he pondered in a 2008 Guardian interview. “Probably they’re informed by Monty Python, rock ‘n’ roll and Victorian England. If you have those things about your character, they’ll go, all right, I know what this is.”
Unlike Sellers, however, he didn’t have the range for a Dr Strangelove or the sensitivity for a Being There. And unlike Moore, his established comic persona meant you wouldn’t trust him as a Bedazzled-style romantic failure, let alone as an elf in Santa’s workshop. (Though you could just about picture him as an Arthur, on which more in a moment.) As for Connolly: well, perish the thought of him in Mrs Brown. So instead, the studios ended up paying him millions to essentially play himself.
Who is this, for instance? “I was watching the news one day and I saw footage about, uh, war, and I think it was Darfur, or Zimbabwe, or Rwanda, or one of ‘em, and I thought, ‘this isn’t right, is it?’ And I made some phone calls and it turns out, it isn’t.”
Or this: “I would rather have my testicles spread out like a wafer and then have them covered in a layer of honey and then have wasps come and sting me and then have them covered in another layer of vinegar and then have it worn as a swimming cap by a Nazi – I’d rather have that than spend another second with her.”