Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Gene Wilder

Excuse the inaccurate trousers and trainers, but given the comparison I'll make between Wilder's Wonka and a certain other character, then perhaps, some red converse trainers were rather appropriate....

R.I.P, Gene Wilder.

Blimey. Quite a thing, to think that he's gone.

Willy Wonka. Always the best.

The Johnny Depp film may have stuck slightly closer to the original book, but nothing compares to this wonderful man's interpretation.

I remember reading an article, several years ago, in an issue of Doctor Who Magazine, which described, in descending order, a dozen or so instances of actors in films or TV shows, who, while not *actually* playing the Doctor, might as well have been, for their interpretation of the given character. Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka topped that list.

Not only was it his wonderful eccentricity, unpredictability and general sense of other-wordly-ness, but his costume, with the bow tie and velvet jacket, is vaguely reminiscent of the Doctor of the time, Jon Pertwee, and his costume in general is very Doctor-ish. Plus, as the article pointed out, all that that scene in the tunnel needed, where he's reciting creepy rhymes, and lights are going off all over the place and with the tension and music building, is that familiar Doctor Who theme sting that came with the cliffhanger at the end of an episode.

I was lucky enough to be able to play a version of Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka at an event in Newham earlier this year, supervising a game where visiting children would look for and find a Golden Ticket. As well as the odd look of wonder and amazement from some kids, I was approached for a few photos and selfies. Much like has often been said about the Doctor, it wasn't so much me they wanted a photo with or had such excitement for, but the affection they had for the *character*, which they would project onto me in portraying it.

It was an immense pleasure sort-of playing a part that really, I feel I could have made more effort to fill the shoes of. I hope that I get the opportunity to do so again at some point, so that I can put even more effort into channeling the indomitable Gene Wilder.

What a thrill.

Sad to see him pass, although he will always live on, for many of us, '...in a world of Pure Imagination...'