The Top 10: Artists begrudging the creation that made them famous

John Rentoul
·3-min read
<p>Sherlock Holmes was killed off then resurrected. One of the most popular incarnations was played by Benedict Cumberbatch (left, with Martin Freeman as Watson)</p> (BBC)

Sherlock Holmes was killed off then resurrected. One of the most popular incarnations was played by Benedict Cumberbatch (left, with Martin Freeman as Watson)

(BBC)

This list started with Arthur Conan Doyle, who thought his Sherlock Holmes books mere entertainments as opposed to his seven historical novels.

1. Robert Louis Stevenson and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. “Which has also bedevilled the mental health debate, though he was not to know it at the time,” said Alastair Campbell, who added: “PS. Schizophrenia is not a ‘split personality’!”

2. Alan Moore and Batman: The Killing Joke. Moore wrote the story that launched the darker Batman character, but later said: “It’s not saying anything very interesting.” Thanks to Isabel.

3. Mikhail Kalashnikov and the AK-47 assault rifle. “My spiritual pain is unbearable,” he wrote, shortly before his death in 2014. Nominated by Nigel Morris.

4. Radiohead and “Creep”. The band eventually refused to play it and Thom Yorke told a Montreal audience demanding it: “We’re tired of it.” Thanks to Jesse O’Mahoney, Jonathan Trout, James Dawson, David Tully, Johnny Glen, Mark Taylor and Milk Media.

5. Dorothy L Sayers and Lord Peter Wimsey. “She was dischuffed when awarded an honorary DLitt by Durham University in 1950. The university’s public orator in presenting her for the degree referred mainly to her detective novels. She felt her more serious work in translating Dante’s Divine Comedy and in Christian apologetics should have been given prominence,” said Andrew Horsman, whose father, a lecturer in English at Durham, was present. In the foreword to Gaudy Night, she apologises to Balliol College, Oxford, for “having saddled it with so wayward an alumnus as Lord Peter Wimsey”, added Stewart Slater.

6. Vincent Connare and the Comic Sans typeface. Nominated by The G Man

7. Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot. She described him as “insufferable” by the end of the 1930s and called him a “detestable, bombastic, tiresome, egocentric little creep” by the 1960s. One of her characters, Ariadne Oliver, was a crime writer who lamented the popularity of the sleuth she had created. Unlike Conan Doyle, when Christie killed off her creation it was final. Thanks to Stewart Slater, Graham Kirby, Cathy Adamson and Paisley Windowpane.

8. Dave Greenfield of The Stranglers and “Golden Brown”, which he wrote but “hated”, according to his friend Tony Jebson (Greenfield died last year).

9. Ian Fleming and James Bond. By the late 1950s Fleming wrote: “I used to believe – sufficiently – in Bonds and blondes and bombs. Now the keys creak as I type and I fear the zest may have gone.” He considered killing him off as early as From Russia With Love, the fifth book in the series. Thanks to Stewart Slater.

10. Ludwig Wittgenstein and Tractatus. He later contradicted almost all of its propositions, writing in Philosophical Investigations: “The author of Tractatus was mistaken.” Nominated by David Sutherland.

No room, then, for Tchaikovsky and The Nutcracker (Nick Clayton), David Walliams and Matt Lucas, who appear to have disavowed many of their Little Britain characters (Patrick O’Flynn), or Gustav Holst and The Planets (Jorma Louko).

I ruled out Alec Guinness and Obi-Wan Kenobi, Wet Wet Wet and “Love Is All Around”, and Christopher Plummer and Captain Von Trapp, because they were other people’s creations (and Plummer has just featured in Top 10 people who are remembered for something they didn’t do – in his case, singing).

There’s always one, and this week there are several. Paul T Horgan, Rob Fuller, Tooting Warrior and Lee Rotherham all nominated Victor Frankenstein and his monster. Theo Bertram nominated Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. Tim Shipman countered with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. John Ruddy added: “Tony was the name of the scientist, not the monster.”

Next week: B-sides that should have been A-sides, starting with “Half the World Away”, by Oasis (B-side to “Whatever”, 1994).

Coming soon: People who were going to be priests, starting with Stalin, Shane MacGowan and Tony Abbott, the Australian former prime minister.

Your suggestions please, and ideas for future Top 10s, to me on Twitter, or by email to top10@independent.co.uk

Read More

Prince Philip: Buckingham Palace announces death

I hate camping – it’s no replacement for a ‘proper’ summer holiday

Prince Philip was a dinosaur, but the royals will struggle without him