Saturday, February 11, 2006

Who Do You Think You Are? - Jane Horrocks

A few years ago there was a great series on Channel Four hosted by Lisa Tarbuck called Without Prejudice, in which several members of the public with different backgrounds competed with each other for the prize of £50,000. They each gradually revealed more of themselves as a panel of extremely prejudiced nobodies voted them off the show, one by one. I loved it as it showed the nasty bastard British public at their very worst.

Who Do You Think You Are? could do with a similar panel. As each celebrity delves into their family's past, the more they reveal about their own character. And we could do with a good argument between a couple of idiots, one who says "I used to hate Jane Horrocks but now I'm really warming to her" and one who says, "I used to quite like her, now I can't stand her."

Apart from the bloody annoying voice, she's never really crossed my radar apart from the Mike Leigh film where she played a girl with a bloody annoying voice. Apparently she is now famous for being in Absolutely Fabulous and the film Little Voice, both of which are not really suitable viewing for any man, let alone one of my arty persuasions.

But now I cannot bear the woman.

She starts out by 'pegging out' on a Monday morning. "I learnt how to peg out on a Monday morning from my mother, she learnt how to peg out from her mother, who learnt how to peg out from her mother..."

You might think that 'pegging out' was something complicated and took years to master, passed on from gifted mother to gifted daughter.

No, to peg out is to put the washing out on the washing line, a task that can be performed by anybody with at least one arm and half a brain. Maybe Jane is trying to show us her hard working credentials, eh?

Jane and her mother and her mother's mother and her mother's mother's mother are part of a long line of strong women who do things their way no matter what the consequences. A long line of strong, hard working, temperate, Methodist women. God help us.

But as always with families, there is a secret. Jane's aunt has always believed that Jane's great grandmother was left orphaned to bring up her two younger brothers at the age of twelve. But Jane learns that she was actually left orphaned to look after the boys at the age of thirty-one! And that she also failed to mention that she had four other brothers and sisters, including Ernest, the black sheep of the family who emigrated to Australia to become a very non-temperate billiard marker and gambler. The ring that Jane's religious aunt wears contains an opal which Ernest probably won by gambling.

It's incredible how some of these celebrities really connect with their unseen ancestors. Jane still really knows fuck all about her great aunts and uncles but she is still able to pontificate: "They were all good and clever and brilliant except for Ernest who was the black sheep of the family." Good and clever and brilliant just like you, eh, Jane?

It gets better. When Abraham Lincoln blocked cotton exports as he took on the South, there was no work in the Lancashire cotton industry. No work meant poverty and death, and death happened to one of Jane's great uncles at the age of three.

Jane the nutter stands by Manchester's statue of Lincoln and bleats, "I feel so proud that my ancestry believed in something so strongly that they were willing to die for it."

So a three year old boy lay down his own life in Lancashire so that slavery in America could be abolished? Christ Almighty!

How about Jane's father's family? Could they by any chance be related to the Horrocks' cotton dynasty which got rich on the backs of black slaves? You can see Jane's eyes light up as she says, "I could be rich!", as if she isn't fucking rich enough already.

Of course there is a link, but Jane's Horrockses branched off to become poor cotton bleachers. The other Horrockses were the biggest darn cotton folks in the country, until they lost it all.

Jane meets a direct descendent of Mr Cotton Horrocks. She condescendingly says, "Now we are on a similar standing". That's Jane the rich actress descendant of poor bleachers, and the descendant of the broke cotton family, standing there with his pint of lager and his coat of arms.

We are not told what he does for a living.


  1. Top analysis.
    I fall into the 'used to like her' camp and now I'm in the 'can't stand her' camp.
    Unlike S Fry and J Paxman and J Clary (just noted injudicious use of word 'camp') who reman or moved into my 'their OK', er, not camp obviously, ... group.
    Didn't see Shiela Hancock.

  2. Hello there, Beep. I agree that Fry, Paxman, and Clary came across well. Sheila Hancock not so well as she was another one who thought she really knew someone who lived 200 years ago. And she slagged off where we live.

    None as horrible as Jeremy Clarkson in the last series, though.

  3. Ah yes, the well-known case of Kelner envy. It, er, jarred, that one.

  4. Ah, Ms Horrocks - three-times winner of the Berkoff Acting Subtlety Award of the Year.

  5. And another thing.

    Why does Mike Leigh always saddle his working class women characters with those retarded voices. Brenda Blethyn, Jane Horrocks, etc. When have you ever heard people talk like that?

  6. No wonder Alison Steadman left him - he was always begging her to do 'the voice' at home.

  7. I can say that there are some things you just don't miss.

    Horrocks rhymes with something doesn't it?

  8. It's horror twinned with bollocks.