Shane Watson People-watching
Here’s a shout-out to those who have stayed grounded in spite of their fame and fortune
Most celebrities dread an old acquaintance coming out of the woodwork to reveal what they were like back when they were one of the little people and just how much fame has changed them. Not so Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator of Fleabag and Killing Eve, who this week was praised in a tweet that went viral by someone she used to hang out with a bit nine years ago. “Despite all the glittering success she has remained utterly grounded,” said the friend, who had pinged her a WhatsApp asking for advice about a script he had written (I imagine she gets quite a bit of that) and got an encouraging and generous response. “The creative industries can be an extremely uninviting place when you’re on the outside, so whatever you do, be kind, be good, but above all, be more Phoebe Waller-Bridge.” Honestly, we were ahead on this. We had PWB down as one of the grounded ones based on things she said, the company she kept and her fresh-looking Land Girl hair. A small amount of exposure to the woman and her work and we had concluded that if the limo broke down on the way to the film premiere, PWB would get out and push. Suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel? She’d make use of the extra space by getting her sister and her cousin to join her and her cousin’s friend could sleep in the bath. Boring family lunch party? Phoebe’s having great fun talking to dull Uncle Geoff. Spotting who is grounded and who isn’t among the rich and famous is one of our best skills and the outing of Waller-Bridge has encouraged us to do a quick round-up of the ones currently at the top of the grounded list. Sarah Lancashire Playing Sergeant Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley, Lancashire has not only blown us away with her acting, but delivered a character none of us will ever forget, who is the definition of grounded. If you’ve just watched Happy Valley you’ll find it almost impossible to order a flat white with semiskimmed oat milk, extra hot, and not sulk a bit when they fill it up too much. Peter Kay In spite of being worth in the region of £50million, Kay is still the comedian who remains, right down to his drip-dry shirts and diet, the regular bloke from Bolton. We know nothing much about his private life, but if he were to enjoy the occasional glass of Bollinger, own a kitchen island, a rewilded meadow, a single item of designer clothing or even branded trainers, we would eat our hats. Jennifer Coolidge “I just want you all to know that I had such big dreams and expectations as a younger person, but what happened was they get sort of fizzled by life or whatever,” said the star of White Lotus in her Critics’ Choice Award acceptance speech. It’s fairly apparent the 61-year-old Coolidge does not take herself seriously but at the Critics’ Choice Awards we discovered she’s been hanging on by a thread, relying on the kindness of strangers. Not a poncy “Where are my keto meals?” and “Get me a bigger trailer” bone in her body. Rod Stewart Rod got bumped to the top of the grounded list – who can forget – when he gave up on his local council and set about mending the potholes outside his house himself, while Penny headed off to do her shift as a special police constable. He also, famously, likes to muck about with train sets. All of which goes to prove you can be a legendary rocker and flash dresser but you can still be properly grounded. Harry Styles Is Harry Styles grounded? We think so. Partly because of that time his car broke down and a man let him wait in his house until the AA arrived and Harry had a cup of tea and fed the fish and left the man’s teenage daughter a note and signed her Harry Styles album and generally behaved like Paul Macca would have done circa 1966. Polite and unfancy. Jamie Oliver Because of his marriage of 23 years to Jools and the hands-on parenting of five children. He hasn’t changed a bit since the Naked Chef moped days, apart from putting on a few pounds, which is saying something. Jill Scott Footballer Scott could give lessons in down-toearthness. Some people have mistaken her for nice, but on closer examination she is grounded and lacks any sense of her own importance. Also worth noting that this did not used to be the extraordinary rarity it is now, which is why Jill Scott’s straightforwardness is almost blinding. Paul McCartney Paul is the most famous popstar in the world and clearly he has a nice life and doesn’t stint on the Caribbean holidays. But the thing is, ever since Mull of Kintyre and the beardy years, we’ve known Paul to be a straightforward family guy at heart who has done a pretty good job of keeping it real. Amazing really. Matthew Macfadyen and Keeley Hawes No good reason to lob these two onto the list other than that we like them! They’re married and evidently happily so! They’re a couple of married actors who like to make each other corpse. They just feel like a couple we could have fun with.