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The resistible rise of Stephen Fry and his plans for world domination
09.29.2014
10:23 am

Topics:
Books

Tags:
Stephen Fry

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It would seem that fame, fortune and the adoration and seven-and-a-half million twitter followers is not enough for Stephen Fry. No. The well-loved, respected and overly indulged national treasure, etcetera, etcetera, wants his life (or at least the third volume of his autobiography More Fool Me) to become “a global story.”

Last week Penguin and the unstoppable ego that is Stephen Fry, launched YourFry a “global digital storytelling project” tied-in to the latest volume of the luvvie’s autobiography More Fool Me. The project will make available text, audio and photographic samples for developers and digital artists to create “whatever they like from apps and data visualisations through to animation and 3D models.”

According to Nathan Hull, digital product development director at Penguin Books, YourFry is:

....an interactive and collaborative project to reinterpret the words and life story of Stephen’s memoir, turning Stephen’s personal story into a global one.

We want to experiment, collaborate, open a conversation, learn and share—and we’re excited to see the creativity and energy of storytellers all over the world.

This is an interesting idea, but one that would (surely) be best served by some great work of fiction (fairy stories, Harry Potter, War and Peace) rather than Stephen Fry’s superfluous third volume of memoirs (how many volumes of autobiography does the privileged 57-year-old need?). The whole thing looks more like some desperate PR ploy to boost interest in this dud of a book.

More Fool Me is piss poor and reads like bits left out of the second volume The Fry Chronicles, where it would happily sit in an edited form under the chapter heading “C is for Cocaine.”

I spent the weekend reading Fry’s latest wankathon, and want to save you the bother of buying it, reading it or being scarred for life by its mediocrity. Save your money. Spend it on drugs, beer, a night out, or a suitably charming present for someone you love. For those still not heeding my words, here is a breakdown (almost) without spoilers.

Fry begins More Fool Me by recounting a recurring dream where he is arrested, tried and sent to prison. Whether it’s true or not, we only have Fry’s word. But its affect is to make the reader sympathetic to the author’s plight before he even begins his tale. Poor Stephen we think, as we then spend the next 50 pages reading a rehash of volumes one and two: Moab is My Washpot (which covered Fry’s life up to the age of twenty) and The Fry Chronicles (his life up to the age of 30).

The following 150 pages are mainly about his hedonistic years on cocaine (hardly revealing), hanging around the Groucho Club (who knew the place was so dull?) and meeting fellow celebrities (no, there is no juicy gossip as Fry loves everyone and anyway he claims he saving all the juicy stuff until after he’s dead). To be frank, there is nothing here of any merit, real interest or literary/cultural importance. The most talked about piece is Fry’s list of the places where he has snorted cocaine: Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the BBC, a long list of gentlemen’s clubs, and a selection of newspapers and periodicals, etcetera, etcetera. I seriously doubt that Fry was the first to hoover up Colombian marching powder in any of these various venues, and he is unlikely to be the last.

The final section of the book is a sub-Adrian Mole diary from 1993, which would not look out of place in the comedy pages of National Lampoon or Private Eye.

Fry was known as “Sly Fry” at school, which is about right, for he is smart (cunning?) enough to ensure his readers are sympathetic, by cleverly disarming any criticism throughout the book with his unhappiness, his self-doubt, self-loathing and the fact that he is encumbered with the omniscient curse of knowing exactly how his readers think:

..I do hear what I consider to be the voice of the reader, your voice. Yes, yours. Hundreds of thousands of you, wincing, pursing your lips, laughing here, hissing there, nodding, tutting, comparing your life to mine with as much objective honesty as you can. The chances are that you have not been lucky with the material things in life as I have, but the chances are (and you may find this hard to believe, but I beg that you would) that you are happier, more adjusted and simply a better person.

(Oh, do fuck off Stephen.)

This is Fry being “sleekit” here, a great Scottish word meaning “sly, secretive, up to no good,” telling his readers that his life may have been charmed, blessed, beautifully plumped like goose-feather cushions on the Chesterfield of life, but in actual fact, he is to be pitied for he is not happy, and all this success, this excess has not made our little Stephen happy.

Well, tough. Deal with it. You have never suffered the privations, the illness, the violence, the utter despair most people face every day of their lives. You are damnably privileged, and should try and think about how you can help others rather than seek approval from their applause.

Maybe it’s time for some kind of intervention? What if all the causes of Mr. Fry’s addiction to fame and public adulation are confiscated, and he is made sit in the corner where he can have a good long hard think about other people for a change.

The book is rather like the homework written on a bus by a clever student traveling to school, “Will this do?” Sadly, no. As Fry himself possibly suspects as he tells his readers to try Moab is My Washpot or The Fry Chronicles. He’s right—both of these books are far better as he reflects on his past life, examining and understanding his younger self. There is little of that here, this is more of the “unexamined life.” If you want to read Stephen Fry at his best then do please read Moab is My Washpot or The Fry Chronicles or his excellent book on poetry The Ode Less Travelled or try his fiction The Liar, or (possibly his best novel) The Hippotamus , as this is where you will find the riches of his talent.

And if you are still not convinced, well, more fool you, though I’m sure you’ll be interested in the global mass worshiping of Saint Stephen on 1st October… details below.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Stephen Fry and Meat Loaf fail to understand each other
10.14.2013
01:50 pm

Topics:
Television

Tags:
Stephen Fry
Meat Loaf


 
In the sketch, performed on the British TV show Saturday Live, which ran from 1985 to 1987 and was heavily influenced by the U.S. show Saturday Night Live, Meat Loaf and Fry poke fun at the massive gap between the wild American lingo of the new generation and the proper diction of a Cambridge graduate of the Stephen Fry mold. Fry’s punctilious manner is as much a part of the joke as the manic style of Meat Loaf, but Fry was on “home turf” if you will, so he had something of an advantage.

What becomes evident mere seconds into the sketch is that Meat Loaf is reading from cue cards, and Meat Loaf’s obvious reliance on the cards becomes part of the fun—Fry even begins to prompt him after a while.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Savilegate: Will the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal finish off the BBC?

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When asked by a reporter in 2001 whether he was concerned if he would be remembered as a “conning pervert and abuser when he died,” Jimmy Savile replied:

‘If I’m gone that’s that. Bollocks to my legacy. Whatever is said after I’m gone is irrelevant.’

The reporter then asked if Savile was ‘into little girls’, to which the BBC presenter replied:

‘I’d rather not even opinionate on this. I’ll leave it to the psychologists to sort out the psychology of child abuse.’

Every day a new allegation emerges about Jimmy Savile. These allegations now cover 6 decades, and include allegations of the rape of children, mentally ill patients and the sexual assault of a disabled girl. The police are currently investigating over 300 lines of inquiry.

Savile’s attacks occurred in hospitals, clubs and the BBC. And it is the latter organization that is coming under considerable scrutiny by the police.

The question is how did the BBC employ such an individual, when there were known allegations against him? And what was the everyday culture at BBC that could allow Savile’s behavior to go unnoticed? Uncommented upon? Even tolerated?

A glimpse of how things were at the BBC can be found in Stephen Fry’s second volume of autobiography, The Fry Chronicles (pages 296-297 of the paperback edition), where he described a meeting with the BBC executive Jim Moir in 1983.

Hugh [Laurie] and I were shown into his office. He sat us down on the sofa opposite his desk and asked if we had comedy plans. Only he wouldn’t have put it as simply as that, he probably said something like: ‘Strip naked and show me your cocks,’ which would have been his way of saying: ‘What would you like to talk about?’ Jim routinely used colourful and perplexing metaphors of a quite staggering explicit nature. ‘Let’s jizz on the table, mix up our spunk and smear it all over us,’ might be his way of asking, ‘Shall we work together?’ I had always assumed that he only spoke like that to men, but not so long ago Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders confirmed that he had been quite as eye-watering in his choice of language with them. Ben Elton went on to create, and Mel Smith to play, a fictional head of Light Entertainment based on Jim Moir called Jumbo Whiffly in the sitcom Filthy Rich & Catflap. I hope you will not get the wrong impression of Moir from my description of his language. People of his kind are easy to underestimate, but I have never heard anyone who worked with him say a bad word about him. In the past forty years the BBC has had no more shrewd, capable, loyal, honourable and successful executive and certainly none with a more dazzling verbal imagination.

Now retired, Moir recently told the Guardian that he had no knowledge of any allegations against Savile during his term at the Beeb, as either exec or as Head of Light Entertainment.

“There is so much talk about rumours, but I can tell you that neither from external sources or internally, neither by nods and winks or by innuendo, did I receive any scintilla of this story whatsoever, or discuss it or his behaviour with my superiors. There was not a scintilla of this either from Roger Ordish, his producer for 20 years.”

Should we be surprised? Not really. But it makes sense that Moir didn’t hear any allegations when it was seen as okay to use sexist, aggressive and offensive language such as ‘Strip naked and show me your cocks,’ or, ‘Let’s jizz on the table, mix up our spunk and smear it all over us,’ on a regular basis. This kind masturbatory boy’s club culture covers up for a lot of unacceptable behavior.
 
More on Savilegate, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Jimmy Savile’s ‘Carawagon’ for sale

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Sir Jimmy Savile’s Range Rover Carawagon is up for sale, with an estimated price of between £11,000-£16,000 ($17,000-$24,000). The vehicle is described as a:

‘...first-generation Range Rover was produced between 1970 and 1996. The original car was not designed as a luxury-type 4x4; whilst certainly up-market compared to preceding Land Rover models, the early Range Rovers had fairly basic, utilitarian interiors with vinyl seats and plastic dashboards that were designed to be washed down with a hose. Convenience features such as power assisted steering, carpeted floors, air conditioning, cloth/leather seats and wooden interior trim were fitted later. The Carawagon was a Land Rover approved special vehicle, built by Searle of Sunbury-on-Thames.’

Of interest to future biographers of the legendary DJ, TV host and marathon runner, is the conversions made to Sir Jimmy’s Carawagon:

‘Only very few Range Rovers were converted; probably due to the price of £3040 compared to £2450 for a 109 conversion with 4 beds, although they were still available in sales lists until 1980. Carawagon closed down in the mid-1980s.

This 1978 Range Rover Carawagon was ordered and supplied to Sir Jimmy Savile OBE, KCSG, disc jockey and television presenter, to aid him with his charity work, so when necessary he was able to remain on site and live at the location of the project. The vendor believes that this Range Rover spent much time parked at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, an institution that benefitted hugely from Jimmy’s patronage. Finished in white, this Carawagon is fitted with a double bed, and comes with a wash basin fitted between the front seats and curtains.’

For indeed this may have been one of Sir Jimmy’s infamous “passion wagons”, in which he would get friendly with his fans.

The story of his passion wagon was a bone of contention with Sir Jimmy, when he was confronted by a TV audience of pesky kids, desperate to find out if the stories of his having sex with young fans in the back of his “nookie mobile” were true?

This happened on the BBC youth series Open to Question in 1989, where celebrities, from the world’s of entertainment, politics or sport, were quizzed by an audience of primed pupils from schools across the U.K. It was their job to pose those difficult questions grown-ups never did. And it was my job, as the show’s researcher, to ensure they were asked. For this I had to write a mini-biography for each guest, highlighting areas of interest for these youngsters to probe.

Guests ranged from royalty, Princess Anne, to entertainers, Ben Elton, Stephen Fry, to politicians Neil Kinnock, and Senator Gary Hart (who was asked about fucking-up his Presidential ambitions through his association with Donna Rice).

So, the week Sir Jimmy (or plain Jimmy O.B.E., “old big ‘ead” as he joked back then) appeared on Open to Question, our band of keen interrogators asked the great man if the stories about his sex life and his means of seduction, the passion wagon (which had been described as a Bedford van with a mattress in the back) were true?

The great, shell-suited Mr Fixit didn’t like the tone of the questions and said he thought the youngsters had been put up to mischief by asking such. Well, in a way they had. But that was the program’s policy. The information the youngsters used had been taken from the great man’s autobiography and from published interviews. Thinking he was being set up, Sir Jimmy avoided the question. Yet, after the cameras were turned off, and the producer David Martin and myself made our way down from the gallery to the studio floor, Sir Jimmy started to answering impromptu questions from the audience. Whether he was telling the truth or, maintaining a myth, when asked again about his “passion wagon,” Jimmy Savile admitted he did have a passion wagon and that all the stories about his sexual shenanigans with young fans were true. This announcement seemed to endear Savile to the teenage inquisitors. Why, I don’t know. David Martin then turned to me and said, ‘I knew we should have kept the cameras rolling.’

The question now, is whether this particular Carawagon was one of Sir Jimmy’s vehicles of pleasure? If you’re interested in buying Sir Jimmy Savile’s Range Rover Carawagon, you check details here for further details.

As for Open to Question, Sir Jimmy went to the press (the Daily Express) and complained about the show being a fix, after he spoke to our born-again PA who ‘fessed up everything. Not that there was much for her to ‘fess up.
 
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More pix of Sir Jim’s ‘Carawagon’, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Oscar’: Documentary on the importance of being Wilde

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Writer Michael Bracewell examines the importance of being Oscar Wilde, through the events and works of the great poet’s life.

Here, Wilde is compared to an Existential hero, a man who was brave enough to set an example for all of us - to relish in the essence of who we are.

Wilde was rarely modest, and best explained himself in a letter to his lover Alfred Douglas, Jan-Mar. 1897:

‘I was a man who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age…The gods had given me almost everything. I had genius, a distinguished name, high social position, brilliancy, intellectual daring: I made art a philosophy, and philosophy an art: I altered the minds of men and the colors of things: there was nothing I said or did that did not make people wonder.

I treated Art as the supreme reality, and life as a mere mode of fiction: I awoke the imagination of my century so that it created myth and legend around me: I summed up all systems in a phrase, and all existence in an epigram.’

First aired in 1997, this is a fascinating documentary explaining why Oscar Wilde still really matters, with contributions from Tom Stoppard, Stephen Fry, Neil Tennant and Ulick O’Connor.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Imagine a world without Rupert Murdoch, it’s easy if you try


 
In a 1995 clip from A Bit of Fry & Laurie, Brit wits Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie employ a parody of It’s a Wonderful Life to imagine a world without Rupert Murdoch.

It WOULD be a better world without that vile old vampire! If he croaked tomorrow, I’d piss on his grave.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘The Crystal Cube’: An early bit of Fry and Laurie

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I wonder why it’s generally the rich and famous who like to tell the public, ‘Money does not bring happiness’? It’s so condescending. Do the poor wander around informing whoever will listen, ‘Poverty does not make you happy’? Hardly. I was thinking about this as I finished reading Stephen Fry’s latest volume of highly readable autobiography, where the great man informs us:

I know that money, power, prestige and fame do not bring happiness. If history teaches us anything it teaches us that. You know it. Everybody agrees this to be a manifest truth so self-evident as to need no repetition. What is strange to me is that, despite the fact that the world knows this, it does not want to know it and it chooses almost always to behave as of it were not true. It does not suit the world to hear that people who are leading a high life an enviable life, a privileged life are as miserable most days as anybody else, despite the fact that it must be obvious they would be - given that we are all agreed that money and fame do not bring happiness. Instead the world would prefer to enjoy the idea, against what it knows to be true, that wealth and fame do in fact insulate and protect against misery and it would rather we shut up if we are planning to indicate otherwise.

It’s a clever piece of writing, and rather troubling. If money hasn’t made Mr Fry happy, perhaps that’s because he wasn’t happy before he had it? As someone who has spent a considerable part of his adult life in poverty, dirt and a miserable ease, I can assure the universally loved writer, actor, broadcaster and tweeter that money can and does bring happiness, for it allows independence. Moreover, if money’s not important, then why is so much of our politics based on the redistribution of wealth?

Of course, it’s not just money, Mr Fry is writing about, but fame, and his depression, and all that entails, which he recently discussed, along with his thoughts on suicide, in the talk-show In Confidence:

‘It is exhausting knowing that most of the time the phone rings, most of the time there’s an email, most of the time there’s a letter, someone wants something of you. They want to touch the hem of the fame, not the hem of the person.

‘You resort to not travelling on the Tube or walking round the street any more and going in a big car with a driver.

‘And people think, “Oh, he thinks he’s so grand, doesn’t he?” Well, no. I’d rather walk, but sometimes I just can’t.

‘I feel I would love to close down for a number of years in some way and just be in the country making pork pies and chutneys and never have to poke my head out of the parapet.’

In 1989, I had the pleasure of meeting Fry, when I was a researcher working on Open to Question, a “yoof” interview series where groups of inquizzitive teenagers grilled various invited guests: from politicians (Gary Hart, Tony Benn), through performers (Billy Connolly, Jim Kerr) to Royalty (Princess Anne). Fry’s show was recorded on the same day we filmed an episode with Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens), in which the seventies pop star discussed the fatwa on Salman Rushdie and his Islamic beliefs. In one corner of the green room was Fry with cigarettes and red wine, in the other Yusuf Islam with an entourage of veiled assistants.

Fry was affable, eminently likable, terribly polite and deflected the most intimate and probing questions. When asked if he had always wanted fame, Fry avoided a direct answer by explaining his definitions of fame. There was “real fame like Charlie Chaplin”; and another kind, like original James Bond (on radio) and British TV host, Bob Holness. Fry said when he was younger he wanted to be famous like Holness, and managed to slip this in without the interviewer, (future Channel 4 newsreader) Krishnan Guru-Murthy picking up on his youthful ambition.

In The Fry Chronicles, he explained this ambition more openly:

A part of me - I have to confess this, moronic, puerile and cheap as it may sound - really did ache to be a star. I wanted to be famous, admired, stared at, known, applauded and liked.

Now of course he’s bigger than Holness and as universally loved as Chaplin, which in light of his recent comments about hem-touching fans, does, sadly, seem to confirm what Saint Teresa of Avila once wrote:

“More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones”

It’s thirty years since the loveliness that is Stephen Fry first came to prominence alongside Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie, Tony Slattery, Paul Shearer and Penny Dwyer in the Cambridge Footlights’ comedy revue “The Cellar Tapes”. It’s the last really great Footlights show, as those following it may have highlighted some great individual talent (Sue Perkins, Robert Webb, David Mitchell, and Richard Ayoade) but never achieved the legendary status of “Beyond the Fringe”, “A Clump of Plinths” (aka “Cambridge Circus”) or “The Cellar Tapes”. Understandable, you may say, considering the unique and exquisite talents felicitously brought together for our entertainment.

The success of “The Cellar Tapes” led Fry and Laurie to be asked by the BBC to come up with a pilot for a possible series:

We conceived a series that was to be called The Crystal Cube, a mock serious magazine programme that for each edition would investigate some phenomenon or other: every week we would ‘go through the crystal cube’. Hugh, Emma, Paul Shearer and I were to be regulars and we would call upon a cast of semi-regular guests to play other parts.

This is that pilot, in all its VHS glory, and as someone comments on the youtube page was there a more brilliant threesome as Fry, Laurie and Thompson? Answers on a postcard, care of the usual address.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
An Open Letter to Stephen Fry
02.10.2011
04:50 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:
Stephen Fry
Molly Lewis

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This new tune from singer-songwriter Molly Lewis is a delight:

On YouTube, one of the highest compliments you can pay someone is telling them that you want to have their babies. This song isn’t necessarily about that.
I adore Stephen Fry, and think that our gene pool would be better with his traits running around in it.

He should at least mull it over!
 

 
Thank you Taylor Jessen!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Fry and Hitchens Slam the Church
12.02.2009
12:04 pm

Topics:
Belief

Tags:
Christopher Hitchens
Stephen Fry
Catholic Church

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Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry absolutely scathingly slammed the sins of the Church at the Intelligence?Ǭ? talks. See resources below.

Here’s a good discussion thread about the talk.

And here’s the whole conference, via Richard Dawkins.

(Previously on Dangerous Minds: Canonizing Sinead O’Connor, Catholic Church Covered up Child Sexual Abuse for 30 Years.)

 

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment