I am not going to write anything about Dale Winton, who died yesterday, presenter of Supermarket sweep and other programmes.
I did kind of meet him once. He was sitting at some tables outside a local café one Saturday, a few years ago. He was loud (you could hear him across the road), holding forth and greeting everyone, including me, even though he probably had not met any of them before. And he was very orange.
But, people say he was a nice bloke, and he had looked quite ill for some time.
I don’t know when it was exactly, but it mst have been 1987. Stanley Kubrick released his Vietnam war movie Full Metal Jacket, and I went to see it on the first Saturday it was out at the Warner cinema in Leicester Square. The cinema was busy, and there was a group of USA marines who had obviously heard about the film and come to see it.
If you don’t know, it’s about marines in the war, how they are trained and incidents in battle.
At first these guys were laughing and cheering. they recognised exactly the events as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman took the trainees through their training. But as the film progressed, they quietened, either because they had lost attention or were bored, or, I like to think, they realised what a de-humanising process this all was. Certainly, they recognised it as being real, or realistic.
The sergeant was played by Lee Ermey, and it was his first step to an acting career, and a successful one at that. Ermey was totally convincing because he had done just this. He was the real deal. He played the same kind of part in other films, even Toy Story.
Ermey was never going to star in Hamlet, or some stupid romcom. He had a style and a part and he did it perfectly. This is not a criticism by an means. he did what he did, and he did it well.
Will be sadly missed.
Since we are on a theatre trip right now, here’s a plug for the excellent stage version of Brief Encounter. We saw it first time around, and it is a great evening.