13th March 2006
"I'm a cult I am, everyone says so, you're a cult"
60 min Colour
The Stars Michael Sheen
Connor Garnet Comerford
Young Kenneth Williams
St Joan / Actress
Norwell & Green
Fantabulosa starring Michael Sheen is a drama based on the Kenneth Williams` Diaries which were edited by Russell Davies a few years ago. In the ilk of a lot of the Carry On related dramas of recent years this looks at the darker side of Kenneth's life, and leaves all the good times that were had to others to tell. I do have a problem with this style as it doesn't give the full picture to the story.
Sheen plays Kenny very well, and we feel the full gamut of emotion through his performance, but I take exception to the facial expressions he uses when Kenny was being "extrovert Kenny". He overdoes this and made me think of a caricature of his face. As the drama was based on the diaries, Sheen voiced over the screen action with extracts from it, and he really pulls off the sound and different character that Kenny created vocally, wringing emotion from each vowel. The narrative was that of Kenny being towards the end of his life and using flashbacks to tell key points from his private life and career.
It shows that Kenny was a complex character who craved the limelight and centre of attention, and used his loud personality to ensure that this happened, but the next minute he was bemoaning all the attention he was getting. He had trouble committing to any personal relationship and felt this was an invasion, only allowing his mother, Lou to get really close. His maternal relationship was unusual and unsettling, he would tell her the most inappropriate things, called her Lou, not mum and she was very overbearing on him.
His attempts to make a physical relationship stick were hampered by his abhorrence of un-hygienic people, even not allowing house guests the use of his loo, so he had no chance with a sexual relationship which involved such intimacy.
If you have read The Kenneth Williams Diaries, this will bring nothing new to you, but the drama is brought to life with the true talent of Michael Sheen - for the duration of the show, he is Kenneth Williams, warts `n` all. If only he didn't exaggerate the facial expressions, this would be the definitive Kenneth Williams Story.
Fantabulosa BBC Press Release
Interview with Martyn Hesford, writer of Fantabulosa