Alan Statham

Written by @EllieDangerous
You b-bloody bastards. A few of you have suggested shallow comedy protagonists for this blog, and that’s hardly fair, is it, because how am I supposed to analyse a character who exists only for the titters? But I declare that a truly well-written clown can and must be analysed. Moonstruck sitcom ‘Green Wing’ is well-written and Alan Statham is played by Mark Heap, a master in clowning. So let’s analyse Alan Statham. But first: a poem.

Spoiler Alert
Carrier pigeon. Carrier pigeon. Carrier of disease. Oh gnarled claws, hobbling. Disease, eating away at your very being. Look out! A car! I can’t fly because my wing has been damaged. Beep. Beep. Beeeeee…
Dr Statham is not a poet. He's a radiologist. But he's also a human, and us humans sometimes become a bit of a bastard when we think someone doesn't like us.

Nobody seems to like Dr Statham. His loudest student Boyce tricks him into homoeroticsm, his lover Joanna eats his seedlings, hospital heartthrob Mac park a car in his office, and everyone thinks he’s an unmitigated nutcase. Statham is a reluctant jester, unfunny when he tries to be funny, and bloody hilarious the rest of the time.

Will we desist? No. We can’t help but laugh at him: he’s a gratifying mess, and often proves villainous with his superior posturing, pride and prejudice, and willingness to bite. But his insults are so ridiculous they barely count as a nibble, let alone a bite; probably because we’re “about as intelligent as a gracilis myocutaneous flap on a perineal hernia repair.”

And every laugh is sharpened by the magnificent comedy stylings of Mark Heap, brazen and unrepenting as he shows us the true meaning of awkwardness.

The temptation is to desist with all this analysis right about now. Statham is a stammering, paranoid mess because that's how his absurd legacy has lingered all these years. But ‘Green Wing’ is a carefully polished gem, and I picture a sprawling character synopsis out there somewhere that explains how Statham became the way he is.

We’ve established that we sometimes get defensive when we suspect someone doesn’t like us. No one likes Statham. So he spits like a snake, sometimes preemptively, as shown in his furious reactions to Boyce’s bullying. He’s reached a supreme level of paranoia which must have taken years to fortify; maybe his life has presented him with one Boyce after another.

It’s clear Statham has never been one of the cool kids or even had a tickle at that category, and his inadvertently comical reactions to bullying make him a marvellous target. Thus he’s likely been victimised his entire life, picked on for comic effect — he’s the cow you tip, the ugly naked guy you prod with very long poking device. Demeaning him is a laugh, so everyone does it.

It’s no wonder, then, that he expects it from everyone, being twitchy and terrified and incapable of relaxing unless it’s with a bonsai plant. Statham acts like everyone’s out to get him because that’s all he knows. Remember when he throws bottles of milk at passing women because Joanna has scorned him? There’s a twinkle of a serial killer in those bespectacled eyes.

Cheer up, there’s a sunny side to this too. Statham is more complicated than he seems — but luckily, so are his bullies.

Joanna barely realises she has an odd, familiar affection for him that goes beyond their physical relationship and turns into a kind of soggy, demoralised warmth. Boyce, in the meantime, only ever bullied him because he’s perfectly fascinated by him, and in unravelling him discovered a terrified creature mewing for love. Boyce doesn’t admire him for his medical expertise or hate him for being a loser: he’s just fascinated by him. And let’s face it, their weird connection turns into one of the most moving relationships in the hospital.

He’s probably dead now. Statham, that is. He and Joanna walked hand-in-hand into the sea, and we don’t know if they blubbed under for good. So you may think he’s dead. You may think he’s just a clown. Or you may think he’s comparing his penis to that of a corpse.
I can sing baa baa black sheep in Latin.
See that device on the wall there Mr Boyce? It’s a cunning piece of devilry that allows us to tell the time, and thereby be prompt.
Ellie Ball is the founder of Good Characters, and someone who enjoys coffee cake a great deal. She is a graduate of the Scriptwriting MA at Goldsmiths, University of London. For fun and respite, check out her TV analysis articles on Bang2Write or tweet coffee cake at her @EllieDangerous.
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Published on 12 November 2015
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