Danny Dyer on Harold Pinter (4 stars)

Danny Dyer

A touching tribute to a unique British talent

Those who associate geezah actor Danny Dyer with documentaries about football hooliganism, dodgy lad mag columns, and a long-anticipated residency in Albert Square might be surprised to learn of his close relationship with Harold Pinter. British theatre's pioneering pausemeister became something of a mentor to the young Danny, after making his TV debut at the age of 16 in Prime Suspect as, unbelievably, a young tearaway. Pinter ('Pintah') clearly had a soft spot for this rough diamond, spotting a genuine talent who could slot into his dystopian dramas and domestic horror stories where not a drop of blood was ever spilt, even if the permanent threat of violence became almost an extra character onstage.

Like many critics and audiences, Dyer often 'didn't have a clue what he was on about' with plays such as The Caretaker and The Homecoming, but it didn't stop him from appearing in Celebration, first in London and then in New York. Danny being Danny back in 2000, his taste for the party life resulted in him drying up on stage at The Lincoln Center with disapproving co-actors such as Keith Allen revelling in the discomfort Dyer endured (the pair have at least kissed and made up, as this film shows).

Danny being Danny in 2020, at times he can't stop himself, calling critics of Pinter's work 'slags'. It's clear that the feelings of respect and admiration between protégé and mentor were mutual, and the moment when Dyer visits Pinter's London grave to open a bottle of the playwright's favourite red (Danny couldn't stand the stuff, always a lager man) is genuinely moving. To some he'll probably remain a figure of fun, but Danny Dyer will surely go up a few notches in many people's estimations with this touching tribute to a unique British talent.
Sky Arts, Tuesday 22 September, 9pm.

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