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Was Mark Darcy based on Keir Starmer? Here’s the definitive answer Was Mark Darcy based on Keir Starmer? Here’s the definitive answer
(about 5 hours later)
The clean-cut candidate for Labour-leader may suit the part of the Bridget Jones character, but is it a truth universally acknowledged?The clean-cut candidate for Labour-leader may suit the part of the Bridget Jones character, but is it a truth universally acknowledged?
It is a rumour that has been circulating for some time: Mark Darcy, of Bridget Jones fame, immortalised by Colin Firth, had a real-life prototype. Clean-cut and handsome, the image of self-control, taciturn to the point of humourlessness, but underneath possessed of a dry wit and a passionate humanist heart: plainly, he was based on Keir Starmer. The Sunday Times acknowledged this weekend that it wasn’t the first to float the idea – it has been put to Starmer before and he said he had no idea. Helen Fielding has also been asked about it and demurred to confirm or deny.It is a rumour that has been circulating for some time: Mark Darcy, of Bridget Jones fame, immortalised by Colin Firth, had a real-life prototype. Clean-cut and handsome, the image of self-control, taciturn to the point of humourlessness, but underneath possessed of a dry wit and a passionate humanist heart: plainly, he was based on Keir Starmer. The Sunday Times acknowledged this weekend that it wasn’t the first to float the idea – it has been put to Starmer before and he said he had no idea. Helen Fielding has also been asked about it and demurred to confirm or deny.
Surely we can figure this out by a process of elimination: Bridget Jones’s Diary, the novel, was published in 1996, although the character was created by Fielding for a newspaper column a couple of years beforehand. This was around the time of Starmer (the famous hot-lawyer) – supporting the little guys, environmentalists Helen Steel and David Morris, who were defending themselves against the ultimate corporate behemoth, McDonald’s, which sued them over a leaflet they distributed criticising the company’s practices. Before the McLibel case, Starmer already had solid David-and-Goliath credentials: he acted as a legal observer at the Wapping strikes in the mid-80s and represented the NUM.Surely we can figure this out by a process of elimination: Bridget Jones’s Diary, the novel, was published in 1996, although the character was created by Fielding for a newspaper column a couple of years beforehand. This was around the time of Starmer (the famous hot-lawyer) – supporting the little guys, environmentalists Helen Steel and David Morris, who were defending themselves against the ultimate corporate behemoth, McDonald’s, which sued them over a leaflet they distributed criticising the company’s practices. Before the McLibel case, Starmer already had solid David-and-Goliath credentials: he acted as a legal observer at the Wapping strikes in the mid-80s and represented the NUM.
Fielding and Starmer could quite possibly have known one another, by a number of routes: Fielding lived in Morley, in Leeds, while Starmer was doing his degree at the university. Later, they were both part of the metropolitan elite, or, as we used to call them, “Londoners”. Sorry, to get back to the elimination part: what other pioneer of human rights can you think of from the period who didn’t look like Rumpole? (Not looking like Rumpole was really key in the construction of this romantic lead).Fielding and Starmer could quite possibly have known one another, by a number of routes: Fielding lived in Morley, in Leeds, while Starmer was doing his degree at the university. Later, they were both part of the metropolitan elite, or, as we used to call them, “Londoners”. Sorry, to get back to the elimination part: what other pioneer of human rights can you think of from the period who didn’t look like Rumpole? (Not looking like Rumpole was really key in the construction of this romantic lead).
After all that suspense, I am afraid I can reveal that it isn’t true: while Fielding has never publicly commented, I got a friend of hers to check with her when the New European ran the story in September and she said: “No.” Nobody has yet ruled out the possibility that Firth based his performance on Starmer. As a final resolution to the Bridget Jones saga, I would be prepared to bet, on scant evidence but a strong gut feeling, that Colin Firth and Hugh Grant will both endorse Starmer.• This article was amended on 14 January 2020 because an earlier version referred to Starmer defending Helen Steel and Dave Morris in the McLibel case. Starmer did assist them during the European court appeal process (which ended in 2005) but Steel and Morris famously defended themselves throughout the 20 year litigation. After all that suspense, I am afraid I can reveal that it isn’t true: while Fielding has never publicly commented, I got a friend of hers to check with her when the New European ran the story in September and she said: “No.” Nobody has yet ruled out the possibility that Firth based his performance on Starmer. As a final resolution to the Bridget Jones saga, I would be prepared to bet, on scant evidence but a strong gut feeling, that Colin Firth and Hugh Grant will both endorse Starmer.• This article was amended on 14 January 2020 because an earlier version referred to Starmer defending Helen Steel and Dave Morris in the McLibel case. Starmer did assist them during the European court appeal process (which ended in 2005) but Steel and Morris famously defended themselves throughout the litigation which spanned 15 years.