Tag Archives: Julian Fellowes

Class divide in the arts – are they just for the toffs?

Charley's War: Top-flight comic-book drama that wouldn't be seen today - too working-class.

Charley’s War: Top-flight comic-book drama that wouldn’t be seen today – too working-class.

How many of you were on James Blunt’s side in his very public spat with Chris Bryant MP?

And now that Julie Walters has weighed in, saying Mr Bryant was right? What do you think now?

The Labour MP had claimed British culture was dominated by stars like Blunt and Eddie Redmayne, who benefited from a privileged background. Blunt took offence and they had a highly-publicised row about it.

But top actress Julie Walters agrees. Quoted in The Guardian‘s Weekend magazine, she said: “People like me wouldn’t have been able to go to college today. I could because I got a full grant. I don’t know how you get into it now. Kids write to me all the time and I think: I don’t know what to tell you.”

She said the problem extends to writers as well: “Working-class kids aren’t represented. Working-class life is not referred to. It’s really sad. I think it means we’re going to get loads more middle-class drama. It will be middle-class people playing working-class people, like it used to be.”

With Downton Abbey, written by the extremely plummy Julian Fellowes – otherwise known as Baron Fellowes of West Stafford, winning a National Television Award for Best Drama last week, she has a point.

The prejudice also seems to extend to all areas of the arts – even comics, as veteran writer Pat Mills explained in his own blog.

“Many people in our industry regard Charley’s War – featuring a working class hero, produced by working class-oriented creators with a strong anti-establishment agenda – as the greatest British comic strip. Middle Class comic aficionados would be far happier if it was a strip more oriented to their tastes, and – sadly – I have come across plenty of evidence to bear this out.

“Thus today it would be hard for a new Charley’s War to be originated in any format. The middle classes now dominate all media.

“But it’s some comfort to me that it secretly chokes them that a working class, not very bright, and very British hero, comes out way ahead of the icons they prefer. It’s a victory for mainstream comics, and mainstream readers, which I know many of them secretly despise.”

When the working classes are even prohibited from comics, you know there’s a problem. What are you going to do about it?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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