Actor Ollie Reed became a bit of a media ‘sensation’ during the 1980s and early ‘90s, wheeled out on various chat-shows and late-night discussion programmes looking a bit worse for wear and usually causing embarrassment on various levels.
Look up ‘toxic masculinity’ in the Brewer’s Dictionary and you might see a picture of Ollie. To some he is just poisonous. His brand of industrial hellraising was born in the 1960s but definitely belonged more to the 1970s.
He presents so many ‘red flags’ – in the irritating modern parlance – that it’s a wonder his TV appearances and media pronouncements haven’t been consigned to the dustbin forever.
Thanks goodness they haven’t, because they make events like his live TV meeting with David Letterman on 5 August 1987 particularly fascinating (coming hot on the heels of equally controversial appearances with Michael Aspel and Des O’Connor in the UK).
In interviews, Reed often revealed a ‘quiet’, sensitive side – he was an avid writer of poetry – and claimed he was just giving the public what they wanted. No one could accuse him of being thick though – he makes the current crop of media regulars seem particularly one-dimensional.
But during this appearance – around the time that he was good mates with Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, who once awoke in the sitting room of Reed’s home after a spectacular bender to find the actor brandishing an axe – Reed just seems hellbent on irritating Letterman, and does a superb job. The ‘Little Englander’ in me quite likes the way he sticks it to Dave (Reed reportedly referred to himself as ‘Mr England’!).
Is he doing a take-off of Sly Stallone, or generally ridiculing the all-American 1980s ‘action hero’? Who knows. He was chatting with Dave ostensibly to promote his 1987 movie ‘Castaway’ – another one that might seem fairly ‘toxic’ these days. ‘Enjoy’…
Further reading: ‘Hellraisers’ by Robert Sellers