Posted by Kate Parker Dec 13 2011, 1:10 am
While in Denmark recently, my husband was flipping through the TV channels while I worked on dinner. When I heard my husband go, “Oh, my” I ran in from the kitchen, leaping over thresholds (more on that in a moment), to discover him watching what would never appear on TV in the US at dinner time. Especially not on a channel that wasn’t specifically paid for.
I think his “oh, my” was for the naked actress, but I never noticed her. What I noticed was Sheriff Hugh Beringar of the Brother Cadfael mysteries wearing nothing but a sock and a smile.
Being American, my idea of scandalous dress on dinnertime TV is a politician or financier wearing handcuffs. Seeing Hugh Beringar essentially naked left me incoherent enough that it took me three tries to explain to my husband that the actor was Sean Pertwee, who played the sheriff and Brother Cadfael’s ally in the British TV adaptations of Ellis Peters’ novels. Or perhaps it took my husband three tries to hear me, since there was a naked actress on the screen.
The British TV series is nearly twenty years old, and Ellis Peters’ first Brother Cadfael novel came out in the 1970′s. Why did I recognize the actor’s face after all that time when there was so much more to look at? Because Brother Cadfael and Sheriff Hugh Beringar, with their twelfth century abilities to find the murderer and help young lovers escape for their HEA, are burned into my brain. Many of Peters’ novels are on my keeper shelves.
And that brings me to my thought about memorable characters. It’s not the shock value of naked actors on dinnertime TV, although that doesn’t hurt, but their relationship with other characters that makes them stand out. Former soldier Cadfael was able to keep up with, and occasionally surprise, the knight Beringar, making them partners. As a monk, Cadfael should have related more with his fellow monks, but his background and view of life stood too far apart from theirs. He never went against his monastic rules or the wishes of his abbot, which created tension within the character.
Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson is memorable in part because of her relationship with Reyes. Of course, her relationship with all sorts of dead people doesn’t hurt.
Madeline Hunter’s Duke of Castleford’s relationship with every woman ever born, sobriety, and swords made him memorable before he met Daphne Joyes. His efforts to convince her to fall in love with him are the stuff that books on keeper shelves are made of.
What memorable characters have you found, and what are their relationships that make them stick in your mind?
And thresholds? In Denmark, at least in older apartment buildings, there are no wide open multi-purpose rooms. Each room has a doorway off the central hall, and each doorway has a door. Each doorway also has a two inch high threshold to cut down on drafts when the door is shut before robust central heating and triple glazed windows. Nowadays, those thresholds are mostly employed to stub toes and trip the unwary.