For those of us that live in this cozy twilight zone in which the boundaries between truth and fiction, blur and finger, there is nothing better than when on the screen a story of love poured out in stark reality.
Stark is the operative word, as we are talking about Game of Thrones here, and Jon Snow, the bastard of that particularly difficult Northern dynasty, and his best West girl, Ygritte. More specifically, the actors who play them, Kit Harington and Rose Leslie, who has announced to get married â€“ in the real world, a proper life.
Insert requisite spoiler warning here, but let’s wait for the happy couple to last more than four seasons of his dramatis personae administered before the brutality of the writers of’ red feathers intervened.
Our obsession with screen links to become romantic is evident in the amount of fan fiction produced on the subject. It’s called “shipping costs” â€“ and Holmes and Watson on Hermione and Harry, the love of the people to imagine what might have been. And the joy when this transfers to the real world is palpable. Asking “what if…?” is sometimes as fun as the fiction itself.
Bogie and Bacall
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep. Photo: www.ronaldgrantarchive.com
Maybe the last power-on/off-screen romance was carried out by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. His first film was Howard Hawks’s 1944 film to have and have Not, and their chemistry was so powerful that I would not be surprised to hear that the Manhattan Project had tried to convert into weapons. The tough guy and the femme fatale was a party, if not in heaven, at least in the golden age of Hollywood, and by the time we had wrapped up The Big Dream the following year, Bogie was divorcing his third wife and make Bacall, his fourth. But where is it incubated in the silver-screen chemistry and in real life passion begin and end? No, according to Bogart’s biographer Jeffrey Myers, who cited the Hawks as saying: “Bogie fell in love with the character she played, so she had to continue to play the rest of your life.”
Die Hard, love harder
Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd in Moonlighting: “Imagine Bogie and Bacall in to sports jackets rolled up to the elbows, and dresses with shoulder pads.’ Photograph: Everett Collection/REX
The Sexual tension is the key to any long-form drama. Nowadays, the whole world jumps on the bed â€“ or, as in Doctor Foster, just hoists her skirt and bends over the kitchen island â€“ in the drop of a hat. Back in the 1980s, things were much more prolonged. Take the Moonlighting, for example. Imagine Bogie and Bacall in to sports jackets rolled up to the elbows, and dresses with shoulder pads, and that you may have (if you squint) Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd as private eyes David Addison and Maddie Hayes. The people are burning for them to get together. And then, in the third season, they did. Ratings plummeted faster than a thug thrown out of a skyscraper in Die Hard, and the show bent over without life of the fourth and fifth of the series towards cancellation. The reality can never match the imagination …
The Big Bang
The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki (second left) and Kaley Cuoco (center) had two years of real-life relationship during the early years of the sample. Photograph: Allstar/CBS/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar
Maybe that audience desire to fulfill what might be called the “big bang theory” … we want that to happen; and when it is not, we wish that had not. And while we’re at it, we can see in the comedy of the same name. This enacted the fond dream that every comic-collecting geek with a drawer full of Star Trek in the underwear was not a blonde woman who would only have two seasons’ worth of the relentless pursuit to admit defeat and have sex with them. Actors Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki actually had two years of real-life relationship during the first years of the series, they have managed to keep a good secret. Then it ended. And now in the show who is married. I think that is a win, on balance.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson: ‘the frequency of tip, the strained relationship that is just begging for a good bedroom scene’. Photo: BBC/Hartswood Films/Colin Hutton
Strangely, I’ve never thought that Sherlock Holmes and John Watson must be together before the parts were played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. I’m sure there’s slash fiction out there where people have Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce get primary with it, but I’m not going to enter into the depths of darkness on the web to find. Cumberbatch and Freeman, although … the frequency of tip, the strained relationship between hyperintelligent but socially awkward Holmes and pragmatic, dour Watson is screaming for a good bedroom scene. You can even see them together in real life. “Benedict, take Dr. Strange out tonight …?” “Only if you say, ‘What has got in its pocketses?’, Martin.” Enough.
And that nightmares are made of …
Ian and Janette Tough, also known as The Krankies. Photograph: Peter Lomas / Rex Features
I just want some Krankie panky | Ally Fogg
Just to prove that there’s always an exception that confirms the rule, we’re going to talk very briefly about the Krankies. When I was a kid I totally thought Ian was Wee Jimmy Krankie’s dad. I could not figure out why an old man would be hanging around a college boy, if he was not his father. Although Jimmy always called him Ian, not Dad. Then I found out that Wee Jimmy Krankie was actually a woman called Janette Tough. Then I found out that Jeanette and Ian were married in real life. To be honest, I’m still processing this.
â€¢ David Barnett is a freelance writer and author