I'm fairly occupied on the writing end, working on a radio script for a competition.
Fortunately, comics bloggers Ragnell and Kalinara (now part of the Club Parnassus blogroll), have declared it Cheesecake/Beefcake Appreciation Week, for the posting of lovely pictures of either sex. Specifically I think it's supposed to be for comics images, but Postmodern Barney (who will be added to the blogroll shortly) went and posted Paul Rudd, so I guess real people are okay. And I've been waiting for an excuse to gush about this lady for a while, so- here's Julia Sawalha.
If you know Julia at all, it's likely due to ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS, the brilliant UK sitcom where she played Edina's put-upon daughter Saffron. I always felt she got less credit than she deserved for her part in the ensemble, especially in the US- the press always loved Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley), but Julia's work as the "straight man" of the group served as a good entry point for a normal viewer. She also delivered some very funny put-downs, and gave Saffy a wonderfully withering death stare that I've since made into a JournalFen icon. You also have to admire the fact that she actively insisted on Saffy wearing frumpy sweaters and starchy shirts and the like- against attempts by Saunders and others to give her nicer-looking outfits- forgoing glamour for sake of the character.
Julia was also the star of Steven Moffat's PRESS GANG, and has appeared in a number of television shows and a couple of films (most notably Kenneth Branagh's IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER, aka A MIDWINTER'S TALE, and Nick Park's CHICKEN RUN.) Another favorite of mine was her appearance in the charity DOCTOR WHO send-up "The Curse of Fatal Death" as the Doctor's lovely companion Emma, seen below (Moffat wrote that as well). Around 2003-4 she took a leading role in the mystery series JOHNATHAN CREEK, alongside Alan Davies, with whom she became romantically linked. A storm of unexpected publicity from that seems to have scared her out of the limelight for the moment; for a time she didn't seem to be doing anything, which led the Daily Mail (think Fox News without the honesty) to "report" that she'd given up acting altogether. For a while I feared this was true, but as it turns out a broken clock isn't necessarily right twice a day, and she's done a few smaller things- a commercial here, a charity ABFAB special there, and in spring of this year it was reported she was doing a radio comedy. So we can probably hope to see her again, at some point.
Julia (now 38, if you can believe it) was my first celebrity crush. It wasn't a sudden thing. I'd been watching ABFAB, and liked Saffy in that I could identify with her, and in an intro to a script book Saunders was summarizing the cast's coming together and mentioned "the lovely Julia Sawalha", and though she likely meant it in the British "great person overall" sense, I thought to myself, "yeah, she is lovely, isn't she"? This was when I was about 14, and at 15 I wrote her a fan letter. After a few months I got a reply including a lovely autographed photo- I still have both. I haven't given up hope of meeting her in person someday, and since my writerly aspirations include getting to make movies, I've also dream-cast her in a script that I haven't even written. So, if her agent's reading and she needs another job...
So, uh, I'm going to go and... do... other things. Another Cheesecake post may follow this week.