June Sarpong, Ross Kemp and Baldrick all "star" in an embarrassing anti-independence video.
Any Scottish people still undecided on independence can breathe a sigh of relief. Some English TV stars from the mid-2000s have thrown their weight behind the No campaign in a new video, in which they tell people who don't care about them how to vote to decide the future of a country that isn't theirs.
The video involves some celebrities holding up signs asking Scotland to stay part of the UK as that Queen song “You’re My Best Friend” plays in the background. They don't really make any proper points, but who cares when there's such an all-star cast? It’s got June Sarpong! Ross Kemp! John Barrowman! Trinny and Susannah! Baldrick! If that doesn't convince Scots to stay in Britain, no amount of reasoned political argument will.
They don’t have all that much to say. June Sarpong, who having escaped the clutches of teen programming now apparently contributes to Newsnight, reckons it’s time that the rest of the UK “tell Scotland they care”. We then cut to a montage of various celebs scribbling away at signs, Ross Kemp drinking tea and John Barrowman trying to sing. Basically all the things that make the UK great. As heart-warming as it may be, surely these great minds could summon a more compelling case for the union.
It turns out they can, sort of. Thankfully, the marketing hacks behind the campaign were one step ahead and have compiled a more in-depth feature, going behind the scenes to find out just why this galaxy of stars are supporting a No vote.
First up is Eddie Izzard, wittering on about King Edward I, the guy who Mel Gibson fights in Braveheart, and Edward II, who massacred 4,000 Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn. "I'm not like those two!" he says. Then comes his main reason for wanting to keep the union – perhaps a compelling economic argument or a socialist appeal to his fellow Labourites north of the border. In fact, it's much simpler: "I ran eight marathons through Scotland and I'm saying, I would like you not to go."
Up next is Fiona Phillips, who reckons that independence is "like a partnership that ends and you think, 'Oh no! What? Eugh, I really miss them, we could have made it work!'" It makes me feel like England is some kind of needy guy who can't let go when his girlfriend moves on. Maybe Scotland wants England to beg, but I always assumed the whiff of desperation to be the ultimate turn off.
Then we get John Barrowman, who meanders on about how proud he is of his Scottish roots despite being from America in a fake Scottish accent, apparently taking the whole thing as some kind of opportunity to display his accent skills. I guess he's hoping someone will give him a decent role so that he doesn't have to face another Christmas doing panto in Glasgow, especially after this shitshow of a performance.
Ross Kemp then appears, with an anecdote about the time he spent with Scottish soldiers in Afghanistan and the great camaraderie he had with them. I don't know, I’m not sure reminding people about unpopular wars is really the best case that can be made for the UK. It’s probably wise that he avoided any direct discussion of Scotland though, given that his track record here consists of being booted out by Glasgow Uni students for never bothering to show up to his job as rector, and then declaring Glasgow the “most dangerous place in the world” a couple of years ago after making one of his hardman documentaries in the city. Kemp must have had a change of heart though, 'cos now he can't get enough.
It’s been nine years since What Not to Wear was last on our screens. Now, instead of humiliating other women on national TV, Trinny and Susannah have just decided to humiliate themselves. All they seem to be able to think of is how great the Olympics were two years ago. Trinny captures it well. “It's a sense of a bigger nation and all that encapsulates, so it's like... When we're at the Olympics, there shouldn’t be the English team, the Scottish team, the Welsh team. It’s like, Great Britain: Team GB.”
Other contributors make references to the Edinburgh Festival, also known as the one month each year when London media types remember that the Scottish capital exists and use it as a playground to get drunk in while watching terrible stand-ups.
Actor David Harewood can barely comprehend that after sharing “hours of laughter” with people in Scotland, it could soon be a “completely separate country”. Let's ignore the fact that Scotland is already a country and remember that everyone knows you can’t share laughter with foreigners.
Tony Robinson’s segment is the weirdest. It starts with him saying, "It would be presumptuous of me to lean on you very hard." It would apparently also be presumptuous to expect Robinson to say anything that makes sense. He tells viewers “we love you and want to be with you, and that's not going to change”, in the manner of a born-again Christian dropping a kidnappee off for another round of rehab. Then he shows everyone the drawing he's been working on, which he helpfully labels “a turnip in a kilt”.
A turnip in a kilt! Everyone loves Baldrick in Blackadder. He's driving us mad with his turnips. And therefore the union between England and Scotland must stay.
That's about the level of debate in this video. There are valid reasons to vote both for and against Scottish independence, but these fatuous celebrities couldn't come up with a single one.
This article was edited at 2.23PM on Monday, 21st of July 2014 because we mistook Fiona Phillips for Paula Radcliffe.
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