Thursday, January 15, 2009

An escape to Fantasy Island - Digby Jones's unwitting tribute to Ricardo Montalban (somewhat revised)

This week saw the death of Ricardo Montalban, who is probably best known in this country for his role as the proprietor of Fantasy Island, a place where visitors could, for a fee, live their dreams. Ricardo greeted clients in an immaculate white suit and, assisted by Tattoo, his diminuitive assistant, handed out lessons for living to people who rather badly needed them.

It probably wasn't his finest moment as an actor, and his fans probably knew him better as a bit of a heartthrob in his time, but he gave his character depth and a sense of moral authority when dealing with those who had an exaggerated sense of their importance or value.

Unfortunately, his death, at the age of 88, means that he can't help Digby Jones to see the error of his recent statement about the Civil Service, so I'll have to stand in for him.

I see that Digby is of the view that many civil servants deserve the axe. Funnily enough, my fellow civil servants would quite like to take an axe to him...

Whilst he believes that the Civil Service is 'honest, stuffed with decent people who work hard', he was amazed 'at how many people deserved the sack and yet that was the one threat that they never worked under, because it doesn't exist'.

Lord Jones of Birmingham was appointed as a Life Peer in 2007 to serve as a Government Minister, stood down in 2008 and has now resigned the Labour whip, sitting as a crossbencher. As a Life Peer, he cannot be removed from his position except by death. Ironic, isn't it?

In the meantime, I raise a glass to Ricardo Montalban. He brought a little sunshine to the lives of filmgoers everywhere. Not a bad epitaph...


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mark Valladares said...

Dear Anonymous,

Such an intemperate remark, and how wrong you are. It is clear from a reread of this piece that the point that was intended when I initially published it has been lost. That's the sort of thing that happens when you blog using a mobile device.

So, I've rewritten the piece, making the connection an overt one.

I don't, as a rule, publish anonymous abuse. You made a fair point though, and whilst your language is inappropriate, I have responded to it.

MatGB said...

Most famous for fantasy island? Right...

He was Khan. That's still a film being watched regularly, a film festival at the national media museum next year has a 70mm print as its central 'big' film.

Fantasy Island? Never heard of it.

Mark Valladares said...


Ah, when Trekkie meets non-Trekkie...

My memory dredges up an image of Ricardo with Limahl's hairdo in Wrath of Khan. Not really my cup of tea, but fair enough.

Fantasy Island was great, and a staple of daytime television for some time. Perhaps my age is showing?

Jennie said...

Was Fantasy Island even shown this side of the Atlantic?

Khan was in Original Series Trek in the sixties too, you know.

I suspect, though, that actually, Ricardo Montalban is better known as either the bad guy in the first Naked Gun film, or the grandad in Spy Kids, depending on the age of the person you are talking to.

(Uncle Machete rules!)