Below is a script I prepared to perform on stage, I have since been told that it is not practical.
Today’s subject is Karl Howman.
For those who don’t know Karl Howman is the actor who played Jacko in Brushstrokes. That is one of the least impressive roles an actor could have on his CV. Perhaps the only thing worse would be the role of Charlie in TV’s Babes in the Wood.
If you are not aware of Babes in the Wood it was made in 1998 as a vehicle to showcase Denise van Outen’s acting talents. It is worth noting that Denise van Outen has never been given another show based around her talents so that should give you a good idea of the quality of the program.
Charlie, the character played by Karl Howman, was the bachelor who lived next door to the flat full of girls. Even at that stage he was a curious looking beast, it is hard to imagine him as a ladies man.
Samantha Janus was also in Babes in the Wood and she jumped ship after the first series. If you bear in mind that she filmed three series of Game On and the film Up and Under you should get a good idea of the rubbish that she will see through to the end. Imagine how bad Babes in the Wood was.
As a side note Samantha Janus does appear nude in a shower scene in Up and Under, she is caught by Neil Morrissey. They’re not as good as you probably expect. Although I saw her in Eastenders and she looks lovely these days.
Anyway, back to Karl Howman. His career highlights are Brushstrokes, which was rubbish and has aged almost as badly as him, Babes in the Wood, which I don’t think we should get in to again and Mulberry, where he played the Grim Reapers assistant. It is as bad as it sounds.
Boon, Juliet Bravo, Dempsey and Makepeace, Doctors, Holby City, Casualty, The Professionals, Blakes 7, The Sweeny. This is a list of very successful long running TV shows, but they all have one other thing in common, Karl Howman only appeared in them once. It appears his midas touch needs at least two episodes to take hold.
I know you are wondering how that can be proven, let me take you further in to the world of Howman’s Curse.
In 1980 he first appeared in Minder. The show went from strength to strength but in 1985 they decided to cast him again. Up until this point they had produced a series every year to eighteen months. Suddenly there was a three year gap and after one more short series Dennis Waterman left the show for good, to be replaced by Gary Webster. Minder was done for and was cancelled a few short series later.
Of course it is only speculation but I am fairly sure, in fact I am totally certain that Dennis Waterman could not handle the threat of working with Karl Howman again.
1983 he appears in the show A Fine Romance, within six months they have cancelled a show that ran without disaster for three years.
In 2001 he appeared in four consecutive episodes of the Bill, which had been successfully running for 17 years. Within 15 episodes half of the cast had been killed in a firebomb, leading them down the road of bad storylines that led to the show being cancelled this year.
The pattern is clear, if Karl Howman appears in more than one episode of a program it will be cancelled, often following a startling decline in popularity over several years. Unless he is the star in which case the popularity does not exist in the first place, largely due to his characterless acting, and faux crafty cockney persona.
There are two exceptions to this rule, the mysteriously popular Brushstrokes. The reason for this can possibly be traced back to the economic turmoil suffered by Britain from 1986-1991. In that environment more affordable actors were required by the studios. Rumour has it Karl Howman would at times work at a financial loss just to get his expressionless face on the TV.
The longest running serial Karl Howman has ever appeared in is the Flash adverts. Firstly you have to wonder why they would instantly associate Karl Howman with cleanliness. There is something about him that is inherently dirty. I am not sure if he is actually clean or not, and I pray to God I never find out.
Flash’s market share was of course soon hit hard by the arrival of Cillit Bang, so yet again Karl Howman strikes. This time taking down a well established brand.
You don’t see Karl Howman on TV much these days, you must wonder if that made him bitter. He has been in a lot of TV shows, starting with the Canterbury Tales in 1972, where he played the uncredited role of 1st homosexual lover, up until he appeared in Mile High in 2005 he had worked almost constantly.
But now life is not so sweet for Mr Howman. He has become a bitter old man. Maybe he invested his fortune in Proctor and Gamble shares believing that with his exceptional sales skills he would make a fortune? If so he was wrong.
I imagine fan letters are not received by Karl Howman on a regular basis, in fact it is probably an annual event at best. Most people do not even remember he exists.
But I remembered.
I created a loving email, highlighting all of the good work in his career, telling him how he shaped my adolescence. I thought it would make his day, he was always so cheerful in all of his TV programs. Ladies and gentleman that Karl Howman was a lie.
The real Karl Howman replies to his fan mail with such literary genius as ‘What are you talking about you sad fuck’.
I only wanted three autographs, for my friends, I have no desire to see his face adorned with his signature. Maybe he cannot write and that is why he got so offended.
I now know he has a blackberry, he replied from it at about 10.30, I imagine he was drunk in a seedy pub telling people how he used to be Jacko.
Interestingly when I told someone this story they told me that their mum once sent Karl Howman a letter telling him that he was really good in a west end play that they saw. I don’t think he replied, I certainly hope he didn’t bestow his colourful language on a lovely older lady.
In conclusion, if they ever repeat Brushstrokes, which they won’t, it is shit, just remember;
In real life Jacko is not a very nice man, and deserves to have absolutely no work.
Lets hope the credit crunch has hit him harder than most.