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In a new regular feature for Vada, we bring you our contributors’ Top 5… ANYTHING. This week Maisie Barker kicks things off with her Top 5 TV Characters of all time.
1. Joan Holloway (Mad Men); portrayed by Christina Hendricks
In all aspects of life, I always try to consider ‘what would Joan Holloway do?’
The smart, sexy redhead lights up the corridors of Stirling Cooper Advertising Agency as she sashays from desk to desk, dishing out tough advice or catty put-downs to the members of the typing pool. Joan is the Regina George of the 60’s but oh! so much better. Ever the professional, Joan navigates the sexism and workload of the office with icy calm before occasionally erupting in a fiery ball of sass: flinging a model plane at a receptionist, or smashing a vase over her loser husband’s head.
More importantly, Joan is a vital part of Stirling Cooper. It is widely acknowledged that the office simply ceases to function without her and she tutors all newcomers in the do’s and do not’s of Madison Avenue.
She isn’t without her tender moments though. We see a softer side to Joan, such as when she mourns the premature death of fellow bombshell Marilyn Monroe or when she sacrifices her reputation for the sake of her baby.
Ever mindful about the reality of being a woman in the 60’s, Joan is tough, independent and goddamn sexy.
2. Dana Scully (The X Files); portrayed by Gillian Anderson
I want to believe! Dana Scully, flawlessly portrayed by an adorably young Gillian Anderson, is the epitome of snark and sass. Assigned to be the scientific foil to Mulder’s madcap conspiracy theorist, Scully is intelligent, flawless, feisty and (in case anyone forgot in a hurry) a medical doctor.
Again, like Joan, Scully isn’t all flawless edge and harshness. She’s close to her dad, who calls her Starbuck, and to Mulder himself, but doesn’t let it get in the way of her job as a flawless FBI agent.
Always ready to offer a more plausible explanation than ‘man who is made of goo’ or ‘aliens’, Scully was an early flawless feminist icon who made The X Files the brilliant show that it is. And her 90’s sports jackets were so cute!
Did I mention she’s a little bit flawless?
3. Arnold Rimmer (Red Dwarf); portrayed by Chris Barrie
He’s Arnold, Arnold, Arnold Rimmer, without him life would be much grimmer. Second Technician Arnold Rimmer is the human equivalent of a fart in a lift.
On board the mining ship Red Dwarf, he is the lowest of the low (apart from slobbish Dave Lister, that is). A stickler for rules, obsessed with the mundane, friendless, sexually perverse, snobby, and unsuccessful in all aspects of life – there really is no end to Rimmer’s list of personality flaws.
Rimmer is painfully aware of his own shortcomings – his middle name is, after all, Judas – yet tries to differentiate himself from the crowd of lager-swigging, kebab-guzzling louts around him. His attempts are useless though, as emphasised by his failing an astronavigation exam 11 times.
Sarcastic and perpetually morose sums up this man once described as being ‘so petty and small minded, he would while away his evening sewing name labels onto his ship issue condoms’.
4. Patsy Stone (Absolutely Fabulous); portrayed by Joanna Lumley
“Sex, bitch, aristo, sex, punk, whore, bitch, prossie, lessie, punk, tart, slut. Oh but Alex, Alex, with lovely shoes”.
Oh, Patsy. Far from the lovely upper-class poshness of actress Joanna Lumley is Patsy Stone. Alcoholic, narcissistic, coked-up, beehived Patsy. Along with plump PR friend Eddie Monsoon, the two trawl the shops of South Kensington and Chelsea as well as the ski slopes of France, the streets of New York and the souks of Marrakech, imbibing whatever drink, powder or pill they come across.
From living above an Oddbins, to maintaining a BAC strong enough to down a rhino, Patsy is dedicated only to the demon drink and her best friend Eddie. Her unbridled hatred of sensible Saffy betrays a neediness and longing for care. But then she’s burnt down Eddie’s kitchen from a lit cigarette and the six cans of hairspray keeping her towering hair in place.
Drunk, obsessed with youth, fashion conscious – Patsy is a true comedy icon. With lovely shoes.
5. Blanche Hunt (Coronation Street); portrayed by Maggie Jones
A true soap icon and the wrinkled matriarch of Deirdre Barlow (nee Hunt, Langston and Rachid), Blanche’s one-liners kept her a fan favourite for decades. A misanthropic hatred for the other residents of Coronation Street, in particular long-suffering son-in-law Ken Barlow, led to some of the wittiest and most caustic put-downs in the show’s history.
Whether it was Liz McDonald (“skirt no bigger than a belt, too much eyeliner, and roots as dark as her soul”), a recovering alcoholic (“is there some correlation between how boring you are and how much you drink?”) or her poor daughter Deirdre (“good looks are a curse. You and Kenneth should count yourselves lucky”) no-one was safe from her acid tongue.
Blanche represented that sharp-tongued old women that we all know and have all suffered from. She, along with saintly Emily, sassy Rita in the corner shop and grandmother Betty with her hotpots showed an underrepresented group and delighted us with their energy and humour. Blanche, however, was the the star of the show.