Judi Dench is NOT dead.
Thank the Lord!
For in this most treacherous year of 2016, we have only to catch a glimpse of our beloved celebrities in the media for our hearts to lurch and our mouths to exclaim: nooooo, not another one gone!
So it was when Dame Judi’s visage popped up in my facebook newsfeed. My thumb quivered over the strapline: Dame Judi Dench, 1934-2016, whilst my mind travelled from A Fine Romance to M in Bond and I tried to imagine a world without Judi in it.
But it was just a ‘joke’. All is well. She is well. 2016 has not claimed her.
Because I know you come to me for in-depth analysis of life’s Big Questions, let us explore why everyone good is dying in 2016. To begin, we must go back a bit.
Forty years ago, 1976, the only household I name I recognise on the list of the departed is Agatha Christie.
Ten years later, 1986, Simone de Beauvoir, Wallis Simpson, Cary Grant, James Cagney and Vincent Minnelli all bit the dust.
1996 was relatively kind to the famous, claiming only Gene Kelly, George Burns, Ella Fitzgerald and Tupac Shakur.
By 2006, the list is expanding. This was the year of Dictator Deaths: Saddam Hussein, Augusto Pinochet and Slobodan Milosevic all copped it. Also James Brown, Gene Pitney, Syd Barrett, Muriel Spark, Betty Friedan, Robert Altman, Wilson Picket and Steve Irwin (that fella who wrestled alligators).
Two years ago, in 2014: Shirley Temple, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lauren Bacall, Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, Maya Angelou, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, PD James and Mickey Rooney, Mike Nichols and Richard Attenborough (NB: NOT David).
Last year the stars of TV took the biggest hit: Deidrie Barlow, Alf Garnett, Arthur Daley, Dr Spock, Keith Harris, Val Doonican, Cilla Black and Gordon Honeycombe. Also Sir Terry Pratchett, Ruth Rendell, Jackie Collins, Omar Sharif, Steve Strange, Percy Sledge, Lemmy, BB King and Errol Brown.
And so we arrive at 2016, a year when many of my most favouritist famous people have cashed in their chips: Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan, Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne, Paul Daniels, Denise Robertson, Harper Lee, Sir George Martin and that fella with the face, David Gest.
So what can we deduce from this incredibly thorough piece of research wot I has done on the worldwide web?
- There are now more famous people than there used to be.
- By the laws of mortality, more alive famous people inevitably leads to more dead famous people.
- The only solution to the problem of this ever-increasing gang of dead famous people is to stop making famous people.
- We need famous people. We need Mrs Merton and Terry Wogan and Bowie and Prince. Otherwise we’ll be back in ye olden days where the only people to admire were crown-wearers…
But 2016 is now taking the absolute piss.
Not content with taking three from my list of celebrity-shags-that-could-happen-in-real-life-if-I-get-famous (Prince, Bowie, Rickman) 2016 has now toppled the fella who had long been at the top of that list.
I really, really wanted to sleep with AA Gill. I didn’t want to marry him, but I imagined that one steamy night with Gill would be an experience of unprecedented filth and glorious bitching.
His best writing, I thought, was for his Dear Uncle Dysfunctional column in Esquire magazine. Here he is on feminism:
‘The idea that has pushed our [men’s] lives into the light more than any other ism or ology is feminism. You need to man up and recognise how many of the good things you take for granted is down to women’s liberation. You did precious little to help. You sat on the sofa with your hand down your pants and sneered while at every step forward, women made your life better. And it cost you nothing. But it gave you a better mum, better sisters, better people to work with, to drink with, to tell you jokes, to go on holiday with and just to hang out with. Think of your last weekend session in the pub. Now imagine it without girls.’
And on sexy lingerie:
‘Women grow instantly frigid when presented with a bra and thong set. What they see is a whole night of humiliation and logistical and ergonomic problems.’
Oh, will there ever be another AA Gill? Another fit feminist fella with a particular expertise in TV, food, lingerie logistics and wit?
I cannot face another loss from my Hot Shag list this year. I cannot. 2016 DO NOT TOUCH Ian Hislop, Jason Manford, Lemn Sissay or Bradley Walsh.