Pushbike Tribblecheese is probably best known these days as ‘That bloke off the telly who was in that thing with whatshisname.’ It takes many years of dedication to the art of acting to achieve such an accolade, especially in these multichannel times. Although, most TV programmes these days seem to be cheaply made tat about people cooking, decorating, gardening or other mundane minutiae. Or failing that, so-called documentaries where someone famous walks around their overseas travel expense account to tell us something we already know.
There is still – occasionally, amongst the above dross – an occasional drama. Of course, drama is expensive to make, especially if the production companies agree with what the actors or their agents think they are worth.
This though is the point where an actor of Tribblecheese’s standing is vital. He is invaluable in getting the requisite hours of drama on the screen while remaining within the production budget. He is famous enough to be recognised, but not so famous as to be nameable by the majority of the population. Therefore, Tribblecheese does not command so high a fee as someone whom the general public can name without spending several minutes staring off into space or searching Google.
There are quite a few jobbing actors, such as Tribblecheese, who can be relied upon to provide the baddies, the supporting actors, and even when the drama requires it, one of a number of corpses. However, it is mainly in the role of villain, that these actors everyone can recognise, but few can name, usually get their most work. This does mean that in a whodunit, everyone watching can usually pretty much guess by the actor’s star rating, which of them actually dunit.
Of course, a lot of the audience participation in any drama on TV is not so much the engagement in the story unfolding on the screen. More often than not it is the ongoing conversation between those sitting together to watch it about what programmes the various performers have been in before that provides most of the dramatic tension. This is especially the case when one of the group of watchers is convinced the bloke playing the shifty-looking plumber with the dark secret is actually – in real life – married to the women from the flower shop who is carrying on with the postman. However, the rest of the audience disagrees with this and says that the shifty looking plumber is actually gay and married to a Spanish musical producer.
This type of argument can be engrossing enough to last several episodes into the series. At least until the cast has been whittled down by murders and other suspicious deaths for those watching to be fairly sure that the original viewer is wrong. However, by then everyone is engrossed in the third-hand tale of the woman from the flower shop struggles with drink. In particular, how she has now lost so much weight since she was in that other thing with that bloke who was in that programme years ago where it turned out he hadn’t murdered everyone in the village after all… of course, that was before his knighthood.
Consequently, some TV executives fear that Google and other such search engines capable of giving an actor’s entire career with a few swipes of a handheld screen, could – in future – do a great deal of danger to TV dramas and what makes them such riveting watching for so many viewers.