Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The 12 Gays of Christmas

Simon Callow as Charles Dickens

Distinguished English gay actor Simon Callow has carved out something of a niche for himself in portraying Charles Dickens. Dickens is surely the one Victorian author most associated with Christmas than any other, because of “A Christmas Carol”, perhaps the most influential literary work to feature the meaning of the Christmas spirit. In fact, our idea of a Victorian Christmas largely derives from the writings of Dickens.

Simon Callow first played Charles Dickens in 1996 is a one-man show written by gay historian Peter Ackroyd called “The Mystery of Charles Dickens”. Callow has performed this show many times around the world, as well as others based on characters and stories by Dickens.

In 2001 Callow appeared as Dickens in the US miniseries “Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale”. As I mentioned on 11th December when I gave Andersen as my 4th Gay of Christmas, the two had met in the 1850s.

Perhaps the appearance of Simon Callow as Dickens which most people will remember is in the science fiction series “Doctor Who”. In 2005 the episode “The Unquiet Dead” featured the Doctor and his companion Rose meeting Dickens in Cardiff on Christmas Eve 1869. Dickens was famous for his public readings of “A Christmas Carol”, and the tv episode features Callow confronting a ghost during his reading in a theatre. Through a series of encounters with ethereal gas creatures and animated corpses the Doctor shows Dickens that his writings will always be remembered.

Interestingly, this is a very rare example of a Christmas episode on tv that was never shown at Christmas! (It was first broadcast in April). Simon Callow returned to “Doctor Who” in 2011 when he made a cameo appearance as Dickens.

Whatever else Simon Callow does at Christmas he is guaranteed to be invited to reprise his role as Charles Dickens. And as 2012 is the 200th anniversary of Dickens’ birth Simon may probably be in more demand than ever before.

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