The Crappiness Patrol
The top ten worst supporting performances in Who.
Because it's not all Matthew Waterhouse's fault you know…
10. Roger Lloyd-Pack as John Lumic, Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel
Achingly one-note, Lumic is something of a curio: as a crazy-in-the-nutsack inventor, you'd be forgiven for thinking that his B movie characteristics should fit neatly into this serial's pulpy tropes. Regrettably for Lloyd-Pack however, his staccato delivery and silly faces evoke the comedic Spirit of Triggers Past, especially compared to the remaining cast, who all at least try to give convincing performances (even Blue Peter Boy, and that's saying something). Perhaps Andy Pryor was off sick the day he got the gig?
Briefly becoming a fan meme (although, sadly, about as funny as ball cancer), Lumic's opening threat of, "And how will you do that, from beyond the grave?!" meant Who went all a bit Vincent Cut-Price for a moment, before everyone bent down to scoop up their jaws from wherever they had unceremoniously crashed.
9. Jamie Foreman as Eddie Connolly, The Idiot's Lantern
Eddie Connolly is a patriarchal ogre and brutally commanding, familial autocrat. His mere presence instils primal fear into his household, and using the language of aggression is able to instantly cut down anyone who dares stand against him. A pompous blusterer certainly, but not to be crossed under any circumstances… At least, that's how he's written. Unfortunately, Foreman's portrayal comes across as a puff-cheeked grumpypants from an episode of Grandpa in My Pocket.
Interrupting his wife by meekly bellowing, "I am talking!" Really mate? 'Cos we're cringing over here.
8. Richard Briers as The Chief Caretaker/Kroagnon, Paradise Towers
In what can only be described as "doing a Paul Darrow," by sending up both role and script in an overblown, magnified display of exaggerated theatrics, Briers doesn't even have the good grace to be entertaining. One of the rare occasions Who can be justly accused of being pantomimic, his performance is so broad each new ludicrous gesture looks like an entire season of Butlins compressed into a facial expression. What really hurts is that a) he's capable of so much better, and b) the script really isn't that bad.
The final episode where he becomes Kroagnon. Any hint of dignity the production retained evaporates into the dry ice that surrounds him, what with his absurd, guttural rasping and face like he's having a stroke.
7. Jeananne Crowley as Princess Vena, Timelash
Singling out something especially awful about Timelash might be the televisual equivalent of sifting through your own poo for a particularly pungent nugget, but all the same, Crowley's presence here sure stinks up the screen just that little whiff extra. Dead-faced and underwhelmed, her blank-eyed monotony floats through scenes with a withering resignation that ranges from indifferent to phlegmatic with nothing in between. Perhaps it was simply her reaction to the script?
Reflecting on the loss of her father and fiancé to the Doctor with the kind of dispassionate air one might recall a semi-decent parking space they'd just driven past.
6. Leee John as Mansell, Enlightenment
No, it's not just an illusion or your Imagination (yeah, we went there) – that space-pirate bloke really is electro-pop warbler and superfluous vowel-fancier, Leee Jon. Quite what he's doing here is anybody's guess; his motivation appears to be a creepy uncle whose knee-bouncing of children at family occasions was often cut hastily short due to matters that nobody ever dared address or, more pressingly, tell the Police about.
Squaring up to Davison hissing, "Resist any further Doctor, and you will regret it!" with all the limp menace of a man clutching a bunch of daffs and a feather duster. Speaking of which...
5. Ken Dodd as The Tollmaster, Delta & The Bannermen
So, what was Producer John Nathan-Turner's response to the accusation that the Knotty Ash comedian's stunt casting was a rent-a-face starf__k with no logical base in talent or ability? He reminded them that the Diddyman had actually received great acclaim for his portrayal of Malvolio in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
Which, indeed, he had. But, er, doesn't really change the fact that he basically plays the Tollmaster as Ken Dodd though, does it?
"1959, the rock 'n' roll years!" says Dodd, and does a little pointy-fingered prance that'll make you want to punch a hole in the fabric of reality just to escape the embarrassment. Or at least stop watching.
4. Jenny Tomasin as Tasambeker, Revelation of the Daleks
Jenny Tomasin is not so much out of her depth here as drowned, retrieved and buried barely before the opening credits had even rolled. Her take as tragic love-puppy and scorn-sponge, Tasambeker, is such a peculiarly mannered and jarring performance, we can only surmise that she played it as such for a bet. Even writer, Eric Saward, admits she was miscast, and it's hard to disagree; hiring Jenny Tomasin to project the emotional heart of your plot is akin to strapping on boxing gloves in order to play a guitar solo.
Where she pulls a rigid Monty Python Gumby pose and barks at co-workers, Takis and Lilt, to, "find the intruuuuders!" We spat out our tea.
3. Rick James as Cotton, The Mutants
If acting is simply saying words out loud in the right order, then Rick James is your definition of an actor's actor. As it isn't, we're in quite a lot of trouble here. He may deliver his lines as swiftly and efficiently as possible, but does so without pause, reaction, or emotion. He also keeps looking around like he's not supposed to be there, which in all fairness, he almost certainly shouldn't be (a bit like when that bloke was mistakenly interviewed as a pundit live on BBC News). A performance entirely devoid of actual performing, it's probably not inaccurate to say that Mr James' thespian-related trophy cabinet is likely one of the loneliest places in the known universe.
With absolutely nothing to separate any of his dialogue, you can take your pick with this one.
2. Gavin & Andrew Conrad as Romulus & Remus, The Twin Dilemma
It's two-for-one time as the inarticulate twosome aptly nab the corresponding slot. And bloody hell, where to start? Sucking what little atmosphere the adventure has straight into the vacuum of space, they're about as charismatic as a pair of permanent markers, and just as indelible to erase from your memory. As momentum for the plot's thrust, you couldn't ask for a worse driving force than these two smug, unsympathetic, whey-faced, pudding bowl-headed sodsters. Sadly, Twin Dilemma needed all the help it could get and this made things more than twice as bad as it already was.
Romulus: "I am Womulus"
Remus: "I am Wemus"
Professor Edgeworth: "What is this place?"
Romulus & Remus: "We do not know"
Precisely the same answer we come up with when we ask ourselves why we're watching The Twin Dilemma.
1. Jenny Laird as Neska, Planet of the Spiders
Despite humanity's amazing scientific progress, our species will likely never discover the unknowable reasons behind the most perplexing performance in this, Jon Pertwee's final serial. It's, quite simply, the strangest, most angular, and bewildering sight in Who's forty nine year run – Jenny Laird's infamous turn as Metebelis III's chief harridan, Neska. At variance with any method of acting we've ever witnessed, her bizarre slurs - mystifyingly both underwhelming and overstated - are fourth wall-shatteringly abysmal. Incredibly, there's a RADA Jenny Laird acting accolade, which is awarded for distinction in a minor role. How blisteringly appropriate.
"No, I shan't! You shan't take him!," burbles Neska, the words tumbling from her lips like an infant dribbling spoonfuls of mushed rice down its front. She then breaks down completely in character, audible coherence, and limb control. "Sabor, my husband, my love. Why did you do it? Why? Why?"
Why? We don't know, and never will.
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