Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Midweek Mad Geniuses: Peter Sellers

A zany, crazy and madcap actor beginning his career on TV (most notably on The Goon Show) before moving into film where he gave us brilliant performances in Dr Strangelove (possibly my favourite movie of all time*), Lolita, The Party, The Pink Panther and Being There.

He was a brilliant comedian and actor but was often described as ‘difficult’ by co-stars and directors (such as Blake Edwards and Orsen Welles) but particularly by his string of wives, at least one of whom – Britt Ekland – was beaten for her troubles. He has been described as unfaithful, cruel and demanding.

Sellers was uncomfortable being himself. He agreed to be interviewed by Michael Parkinson on the condition he could do the interview in character**. He walked on as a member of the Gestapo (don’t the English just LOVE to parody the Nazis***) but eventually became himself once he was comfortable. He did something similar when interviewed by Kermit the Frog.

He apparently suffered from depression, smoked cannabis and drank a lot.

He was also a Freemason.

In the tradition of Perseus, here's a picture of the author relaxing around the house after a good, hard blog:

* But could easily be 2001: A Space Odyssey

** Would have been the ideal blogger.

*** See Fawlty Towers, Dad’s Army and Prince Harry.


Boogeyman said...

Mr L Bob, you look like a dirty old pirate in that pic.

I'd have said that Fawlty Towers parodied the uptight British far more than (if ever at all) Nazis. In fact, the only WWII related episode had the Germans as nice tourists.

Perseus said...

You look like a gay pirate.

'I'm Alright Jack' is an early, little known but brilliant Sellers film I highly recommend to all. I suggest swapping it for 'Lolita', which was a dud film. The book was brilliant and revolting at the same time, but the film was just dumb I thought.

'Being There' is one of my favourite ever films. It was 'Forrest Gump', but with the complete opposite message.

'Being There' said, "Americans are stupid idiots."

'Forrest Gump' said, "Be stupid, and you'll be a better American."

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Interestingly enough his partner on The Goons, Spike Milligan, also suffered from depression and was also a bit of a cunt.

I see no reason to post photos of myself as I look exactly like my atavar.


Fad MD said...

Hate to nit-pick, bu didn't he start on radio with the Goon Show?

ABC Newsradio used to haveit on at nights (my car could only pick up newsradio... and whenever I revved the engine the radio got louder).

squib said...

Oh The Goon Show reminds me of the book I'm reading at the moment (not really but it was a smooth segue, don't you think?). Oblomov. I'm on page 99 and he hasn't got out of bed yet. Someone please tell me it gets better

Ramon Insertnamehere said...



It doesn't.

Try Fathers and Sons instead.

squib said...

Thanks. I'm a bit disappointed. It has n.f.l written in it, which means my dad thinks it's pretty special

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

BTW, Spike Milligan appeared as Oblomov in a 1964 stage production based on the book.

squib said...

A stage production?

woe is me

Lewd Bob said...

Yes, yes. Fathers and Sons is brilliant. But Turgenev is a master (despite, I think, attracting Dostoyevsky's scorn), and Goncharov a try-hard.

Boogey, Basil Fawlty did the Nazi goosestepping and the Hitler-moustache-finger routine in the Germans epsiode.

You're most likely right, Fad. My research lets me down time and again.

wari lasi said...

Boogey, Basil Fawlty did the Nazi goosestepping and the Hitler-moustache-finger routine in the Germans epsiode.Yes Bob, but he was pretty sure nobody noticed.

I think some of Cleese's best work is his motivational/educational tapes.

catlick said...

I grew up on the Goon Show, and can bring conversation to a halt with my "Eccles".
I didn't "get" Pink Panther the first time round. Now of course I recognize the comic genius, the "time capsule" art direction, and the debt to J.Tati.
I can say that the reprise by Mr S. Martin goes on my list of "acts that cease my ability to engage with the artist". Included on this list is Woody Allen fucking his step daughter.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Indeed Catlick.

Another factor is that every film Woody Allen jas made over the past 10 years has been shit.

Pepsi said...

I'm impressed Bob, your photo reminds me very much of a chappie I meet at Petra last month (I'm a shameless travel show off) he works in the cafe across from the main loos on the site, a young Bedouin chappie. He sure was a hit with the ladies ;-o

Do you have Bedouin blood?

I'm a bit young for the Goons, hows it aging?

Being There made me laugh and cry at the same.

Pepsi said...


Lewd Bob said...

Thank you Pepsi. I do have Bedouin blood! In a.

Lewd Bob said...


Perseus said...


catlick said...

"Another factor is that every film Woody Allen jas (sic) made over the past 10 years has been shit."God* works in mysterious ways.

*Metaphor. I could have easily said karma's a bitch.