It’s amazing how a very small addition can sometimes transform a storyline, whether it’s in a book, film or TV programme. Tiny cameo roles have the power to make a story so much more memorable, even though the character featured doesn’t really influence the plot in any way. It can be the one thing that sticks in your mind and makes you want to go back time and time again. For me, this is epitomised by a dog called Sykes.
I’m a fan of the TV series Midsomer Murders which, for those of you who don’t live in the UK, is a murder mystery series set in a group of tiny villages in the English countryside. Life there seems to be fairly idyllic (apart from the extremely high murder rate!), and it portrays a sort of “olde-worlde” kind of England that reminds you a bit of Agatha Christie or Enid Blyton novels, and times gone by. It features winding country lanes, little oak-beamed pubs and lovely woodlands covered in bluebells or daffodils. There are plenty of gorgeous mansions and stately homes too, as well as chocolate-box thatched cottages, but underneath the pretty exteriors lurk some very nasty things. It’s a great combination and I would watch the programme just for the nostalgia, if nothing else.
|(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)|
The series had run for many years with an Inspector Barnaby in the lead role. I’m guessing he must have become very tired of it himself, and the episodes were becoming rather stale and “samey” – a change was clearly needed. So the script-writers decided a new Inspector Barnaby was called for and they very cleverly introduced him as the old one’s cousin. Not everyone has taken to this new guy, but personally I think he’s doing really well – he has a great sense of humour and started off with a very subtle approach. But the absolutely best thing about the new programmes is his dog – Sykes. If anything was guaranteed to bring in new viewers, Sykes was it.
The moment Sykes walked onto the screen, I fell in love. Apparently, so did a lot of other people. He only gets about a minute of screen time for each episode, but he totally steals the show. A scruffy looking terrier of some sort, he’s an extremely clever and talented little actor, who has appeared in countless films (including some with Johnny Depp apparently!). He also stars in several adverts on TV, all brilliantly done. He never disappoints and somehow manages to make his expression just right. Adding him was a stroke of genius.
Are there any other cameo roles that have delighted you in books, films or on TV? I’d love to know.
(You can watch Sykes in action here on YouTube)