Duke star Jim Broadbent has a dig at Nadine Dorries as he defends BBC licensing fees: ‘Culture Secretary… if you can call it that’ | Ents & Arts News
Jim Broadbent said he would defend the BBC “to the end” against the abolition of the license fee.
The British actor, whose latest film The Duke sees him play a man who campaigns to make fees free for pensioners, was reacting to recent comments from Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries – who originally said she planned to remove the fee, before clarifying that his future was “under discussion”.
Broadbent told Sky News that even his character Kempton Bunton, who opposes older people paying the levy, would not want to see the company denied funding.
Read more: BBC royalty – what alternative funding methods might look like beyond 2027?
“It’s not worth thinking about,” he said. “I think Kempton would side with the BBC and fight as hard as he can against the Culture Secretary – if you can call it that. Ironically, he would defend the BBC to the bitter end, as I would.
“It’s ironic that they’re trying to lower the license fee in order to dismantle it, it’s a curious way of doing things, and I think that would give Kempton great praise.”
The story of an ordinary man accused of stealing a painting and holding it for ransom while demanding better benefits for the elderly is too unusual not to be true, and The Duke is indeed based on a person real.
Broadbent, best known for films such as the Bridget Jones and Paddington movies, as well as The Iron Lady and Moulin Rouge, says it’s always appealing to tell a true story.
The True Story of Kempton Bunton and the Duke’s Flight
“All real people are generally – if well researched and well written – more complex and interesting than fictional characters,” he said.
“There are so many contradictions in real people and Kempton is full of them – he’s a budding playwright who’s also an activist, and ready to hold the government to ransom and go to court and defend what the one imagines to be the indefensible.
“He’s a really wonderful character…he has his own obsessions and it all makes him an interesting and complicated character.”
But despite being intriguing and heartwarming, Bunton’s story has been nearly forgotten. Broadbent says it’s a good example of the impact someone who isn’t in the public eye can have – and we’ve seen examples of that during the pandemic.
“Particularly over the last year or so, there have been several examples of real people kind of standing up and capturing the public’s attention,” he said.
“Kempton was very much forgotten until his grandson sent a one-paragraph summary of his life to Nicky Bentham, the producer, and that brought Kempton’s story back to the fore. So maybe that ‘it will inspire more everyday people to rise up again and make their presence and their ideas felt.’
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The Duke is also notable for being director Roger Michell’s last film. Perhaps best known for Notting Hill, his canon of work also includes the TV movie Persuasion, the big screen adaptation of Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love starring Daniel Craig, and most recently My Cousin Rachel.
“He was special”
Michell’s publicist confirmed his death in September last year, aged 65.
“I just remember the movies I did with him were the two most joyful movie experiences I’ve had,” Broadbent said, paying tribute. “And that only comes from the fact that he is absolutely brilliant at his job, which is the hardest job.
“A lot of times directors are sort of dictators and kind of crazy in a way because they have to be, but Roger didn’t seem to be, he seemed to be the quietest, the sweetest. .. there was never any kind of tension, stress or anxiety, everything seemed to be going very well, and he allowed everything to happen, while being positively creative and imaginative in a brilliant way.
“He also allowed, without being dogmatic in any way, everyone to be the best possible version of themselves and it was always a very, very happy place. You expect more and more and the next, and unfortunately [that’s] not be, but he was special.”
The Duke is now out in cinemas – find out more about the film in the latest episode of Backstage, Sky News’ film and TV podcast