Thursday, June 12, 2014

DiscWorld Casting

 I am currently GOBSMACKED that the BBC is remaking Mapp and Lucia. I think the original TV adaptation from 1985 is an absolutely timeless gem of period television, and one of the most faithful reproductions of a book I have ever seen. Not perfect, but very, very close.
If you have no idea of what I speak, I heartily recommend you track this series down. Made in 1985, it is set in Rye, the town that the Tilling in the book is based on, and around which I tripped happily, visiting the various buildings and squealing. A delicious feast of 1920s fashion, not a shoulder pad, frizzy hair do or glossed lip are to be seen. How often does that happen, that on watching nearly 30 years on, there are no telltale signs?
So whether Miranda Richardson will be able to take Prunella Scales' place, and Anna Chancellor Geraldine MacEwan's, time will tell.
ANYWAY for me the antidote is a bit of fantasy casting of my own, in this case, The Discworld created by Terry Pratchett. MrC and I often play this game together, with one or other pointing excitedly at an episode of Midsomer Murders, declaring the actor on screen to be the perfect Vimes, or Fred Colon. But our favourites of all are the Witches - Nanny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax and Magrat.
So, just for fun, here are my top pics. I confess that there are other possibilities, but many of them are too old now, and so even though this is a game, I still like to feel that there is some hope!

First up, Magrat. Everyone's favourite vegetarian, idealistic, talisman and mascara wearing witch. For me, Olivia Colman is the perfect match. Watching her in Broadchurch, and seeing the more serious side of her acting, I can totally see her pulling off the combination of wet and strong that is our Magrat.

Then there's Granny Weatherwax. She is tough! While the UK is bristling with fabulous actresses of a certain age, for me two stand out. The first I have loved for most of my life. Such a gifted woman, and yet I suspect few people even know her name, even if they recognise her face. Anna Massey. Sadly, however she died three years ago at 74. Such a loss, if only...
 She slips from the vacuous Miss Prism to the sangfroid of an unretired MI6 agent without blinking an eye. A true Granny W.

And then there is the more populous but equally talented option - Dame Judi Dench. She is such a blend of steel and soft, and you never know which is going to come out. I love this photo as it shows both sides to her. You can almost hear the Third Thoughts.
 Heaven help the mortal who gets in her way!

And lucky last, the incorrigible Nanny Ogg. She is a really tricky character, and I can see some truly horrible casting choices being made. And so, I hereby declare my choices in order of preference:
 1. Carol Macready. She first came into my consciousness as Daisy Quantock in the aforementioned series of Mapp and Lucia. She is cuddly, has very knowing eyes, vestiges of a former beauty, and heaps of joie de vivre. So perfect. I love this photo of her!
AND she scrubs up. Those eyes!!!

2. Alison Steadman - known to us mostly from the 1990s Pride and Prejudice, she is an actress of wide ranging abilities, although her sense of comedy is her greatest strength. As Gavin's mother Pam in Gavin and Stacey, she makes me laugh myself silly. And I saw her in Blythe Spirit on the West End, the best thing about a fairly mediocre production. I can see her nailing Nanny Ogg's iron clad sense of herself and love of life.
A great photo of a fabulous woman and actress.

My wild card for Nanny is Pam Ferris. Especially since her portrayal of Ma Larkin in the Darling Buds of May was so like a young Nanny Ogg! It's incredibly hard to find a good current photo of Pam, so I screen captured this one, which was in some weird format. She certainly has the provenance.
BTW, Pam's husband Roger Frost is SO like an older MrC and is SO fabulous on screen, I feel he deserves to be cast also. He is like an aged Ponder Stibbons, but maybe the Bursar? What do we think,  Pratchett heads?

So there you go. My Fantasy casting of The Witches from Pratchett's Discworld. Do you ever play this game and if so, who have you cast and in what?


  1. I agree. Just looking at Roger Frost makes me want to roar, "BURSAAAAR!"

    1. So true! But he is very tall, which may not work. Interestingly, to me anyway, I always think of Nobbie Nobbs as Tony Robinson, only as he was in Blackadder, Baldrick being very Nobblike. But by the time the books were written, famous and made into movies, he was too old and ended up playing a shop manager in HogFather, talking to the actor who ended up playing NN, whom I didn't like. Ah well!

  2. Heh. Fancasting. I do that occasionally, but I never get into the online fancasting game.

    Anna Massey! She's the big name with a small role in Dark Blue World; the one scene from a mostly forgettable film that still gets occasionally quoted in this household. She's the Czechoslovak pilots' firm English teacher who insists on proper pronunciation of "to land". :D (It's an ingenious scene, especially if you're a Czech student of English.)
    I mostly remember her, as her, from Poirot's Clocks, though.

    I'm strongly influenced by the fantastic and hugely popular (Pratchett liked it!) theatre production of Wyrd Sisters by Divadlo v Dlouhé in Prague for these three. So my Granny Weatherwax in particular is a mix between their Naďa Vicenová and Maggie Smith's Professor MacGonnagal (probably mostly because of the equivalent pointy hat, but not only).

    Carol MacReady feels oddly familiar and quite perfect for Nanny Ogg. I can't place her, but I must have seen her before. Her IMDb resumé does give me several things I've seen.

    I'm not suffieciently versed in the Unseen University to comment on the Bursar, though. I'm sorely behind on my Pratchett reading. And unfortunately, I have a terrible head for actor names, so I forget a lot of them. But yes, Midsomer Murders are great for actor-spotting. :D

    1. Hana I thought I had replied earlier, sorry! I watched some of the play, it's fab!!! I directed it myself many years ago and I love it. I think the witches were just bang on :) And where would we be without IMDB, and Google image search? SO many of the actors I want to look up (familiar face, no idea of name) have no photo so I jump between IMDB and Google looking them up. It's changed my life! ;-)

    2. They were! Apparently, the play is definitively over now, but it was up for 14 years! because it was so perfect. It managed wonderfully to combine Pratchett's style with just a little bit of Czech style for it to work even for those who are not familiar with the books (so my father, who's never read the books, loved it, too, and still occasionally quotes some bits from it).
      Same here with the searching. Thanks to this, I've discovered some new favourite actors - some actors are so versatile that you can't place them, but that's exactly what makes them so good, too.