Unseen characters


My lovely wife C has discovered a new treat for me – titter ye not – it’s yoghurt. No not just any old yoghurt but a new brand from ‘The Collective Dairy’. Who? It sounds like some state-run farm in the People’s Democratic Republic of Wensleydale or some hippy dippy commune in the West country. In reality it’s probably a brand front for Nestle but I don’t care because it’s just deloverly, that is if you can find the stuff because it’s a bit of a hidden pleasure.  It comes in a variety of different flavours although to be honest I don’t much fancy the Russian Fudge which sounds like something Roman Abramovitch gets up to with his girlfriend (you can titter now dear readers).

But I am rather partial to the raspberry and amoretto and the passion fruit  flavours. And it was some of the latter I was enjoying earlier today, whilst watching the Big Bang Theory, when two significant thoughts occurred to me. Firstly I may have been a bit judgemental on poor old George Michael in the last posting; I, better than anyone, should know it’s not terribly cool to poke fun at someone’s illnesses. I mean, can you imagine somebody coming to see me during my treatment and having the bloody nerve to say something like ‘at least you didn’t have to worry about losing your hair to the chemo’. I’d have been mortified if one person cracked that line. I stopped counting at around 500 people. Oh how we laughed ho, ho, ho. Anyway sorry George and get well soon son.

The second thought, which was altogether more profound, was that we never get to actually see the big Jewish momma of the Big Bang Theory’s character Howard Wolowitz although we hear her disembodied voice shouting at her mummy’s boy from somewhere upstairs in almost every episode. Seen or not she remains a significant plot character in the series. And I started to think of other characters who feature large in tv series but who never make an appearance. And yet I reckon the shows would be significantly less good if their characters weren’t a hidden delight, a bit like my raspberry yoghurt. A classic is Niles Crane’s independently wealthy yet neurotic wife Maris who he eventually divorces after many series of Frasier. We learn of her taunting of poor Niles but never actually get to cast our eyes on her painfully-emaciated frame.

Then it’s back to the other end of the physical spectrum in the shape of the hugely overweight Stan, the fabulously rich and indulgent husband to my favourite character from Will & Grace, the incredibly sexy and permanently stoned Karen Walker. It is Stan who provides her with a pampered lifestyle thanks to his wealth which is reported to approach £1b. It’s only later, once Karen divorces him that we learn his wealth was actually leveraged on borrowings and Karen ends up bankrupt. However all ends well as gay friend Jack indulges her lifestyle once more as he inherits little Beverley’s wealth upon his unfortunate death swept from the balcony of his penthouse flat by a gust of wind before his marriage to Jack could be consummated. Phew. Sounds ridiculous, and it is, but sharply funny.

Going back a few years to the tv series based on the Boston bar Cheers, run by lothario Sam, which spawned the spin-off series Frasier of course. Perhaps the best-loved character from the show was Norm who seemed to spend every waking hour in the bar because he couldn’t face returning home to his wife, the fearsome Vera Peterson. She almost made an appearance in one episode but a tossed pie neatly kept her face hidden from the viewers’ curious gaze.

Back home in the UK the best example I can think of of an unseen character is another awesome other half known to all as ‘er indoors’, the formidable and never-crossed wife of the artful jammy dodger Arthur in the 70’s hit show Minder. We never even got to know Mrs Daley’s first name but we knew her to be a feisty lady who could leave smooth-tongued Arthur completely wracked with anxiety following one call to the Winchester to enquire about his whereabouts. We’ve all been there fellahs. It was always a pleasant bit of reverie to imagine what the daunting Mrs D might look like, if she was turned to flesh. A forbidding cross between Maris and Vera I reckon.

If you can think of more examples just shout folks.


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