Like most of the British female population, I first took an interest in Colin Firth when he emerged, white shirt dripping wet, being all haughty and sexy in Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Pride and Prejudice back in 1995.
Since then, he won us over again and again with his brilliant portrayal of Mark Darcy in the movie adaptation of Bridget Jones’ Diary, his performance as the now gay former lover of Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia! and a wealth of other roles.
But none of them compare to his spectacular portrayal of Geoorge VI in The King’s Speech. Firth, who was awarded a star on Hollywood’s walk of fame yesterday, is a forerunner for a Golden Globe award on Sunday and if he doesn’t get it, along with an Oscar in two months’ time, I shall fall off my chair shouting ‘Fix’ like all the X Factor viewers did for the last two months of 2010.
I knew that George VI had come to the throne all those decades ago due to his brother forsaking his role to be with his divorced lover Wallis Simpson, but I didn’t know that as Prince Albert – ‘Bertie’ to his wife and his speech therapist – he’d faced a life-long speech impediment and overcome it to become a great monarch in one of the country’s biggest times of crisis.
The movie was so beautifully executed. The careful addition of warmth and humour made what could have been unbearably uncomfortable viewing – I found myself clenching my fists and holding my breath at times as I watched Firth’s George VI tackle his phobia of public speaking – an absolute joy.
I read recently that the Queen Mother (who was played in the film by the excellent – and beautifully sophisticated – Helena Bonham-Carter) refused to allow a film to be made about her husband during her lifestime, and out of respect, it wasn’t.
I hope that her daughter watches it with pride.