Sadder than a trainspotter, an actorspotter is someone who gets as much enjoyment out of identifying the cast as watching the programme. My mother used to be expert. She'd not only know the names and credits of the actors, she'd know who they married and whether they were dead or not. And would take great pleasure in sharing her knowledge with a running commentary. Cowboy enters stage left - he used to be married to x, never liked him. He should have never left y. Do you remember him in... And so on. I soon became used to the multilayered nature of films - the action and the commentary. It wasn't just a cowboy walking into that saloon it was a man with baggage - much of it filled with dirty laundry.
The old black and white films were particularly surreal. Man walks into a bar - he's dead. So's she. And her. Oo, and him. It was like watching a series of zombie films.
Then last week I was watching Black Jack an Australian cold case drama starring Colin Friels (not dead, but he used to play a cop in Water Rats...) and I started to notice the telltale signs. I was more interested in identifying the actress playing his daughter than the plot. Her smile was familiar - and that voice - and those mannerisms but ... I couldn't place her. For the next thirty minutes the action took a supporting role. Where had I seen her before? What was her name? It was a show I was sure I'd watched many times. An SF series?
Then it hit me. Farscape. Gigi Edgely, the Nebari. A ten pointer, for sure. My mother would have been proud. She'd never had to cope with actors made up as aliens. And Gigi looked very different without all the chalk white make-up and the blonde spiky wig.
But - he says searching around for a shiny silver lining - there is one huge advantage to actorspotting - the ability to spot the bad guy in a heartbeat. The moment Ronny Cox or Michael Cochrane walk on screen, I know they're going to do something bad. You'd think the TV detectives would have twigged by now. Wait a minute, weren't you the evil Vice President in Stargate and didn't you try and kill Picard? But they never learn. Obviously not actorspotters.