Arts and Culture

James Bond a Remainer?: Fictional characters and how they would have voted in the EU Referendum

Is Coronation Street’s Tracy Barlow an arch-Brexiteer? Is the Royle Family a bunch of Mancunian Eurosceptics? YouGov polling shows how the fictional characters of British entertainment fare in the EU debate.

Charlie Higson, the author of the series Young Bond, suggested recently that James Bond should be a reflection of a contemporary 35-year-old, rather than remaining true to Ian Fleming’s original character from 1952.

The writer has been criticised on social media for making Bond ‘woke’ in his first adult Bond novel, On His Majesty’s Secret Service, earlier this year. Higson responded that Bond should not be ‘Jacob Rees-Mogg with a gun’ and would have ‘100% voted to stay in the EU’.

In light of this debate, the YouGov Twitter account reposted polling results of the British public’s perception on how fictional characters would vote in the EU referendum.

Brits suggested that Bond would be a Remainer overall, with 31% saying Remain and 26% suggesting Leave. The characters with links to Manchester also generated some interesting responses.

Of those polled, just 7% thought that Jim Royle (The Royle Family) would have voted remain, with 45% suggesting that he would have voted to leave. Of those who voted to leave the EU in 2016, the numbers were even more accentuated, with 5% saying Remain and 57% suggesting Leave.

The father of a working-class family living in Manchester, Jim has a miserable personality, being both tight and a slob. For the most part he is very critical of his family members’ actions, often in a sarcastic manner. Although on occasion he does show a more empathetic side.

He is considered one of the greatest British television characters of all time, in a comedy series which was entirely set, written and filmed in Manchester.

Tracy Barlow also came in as a Brexiteer. Like Jim Royle, the iconic Coronation Street character had just 7% for Remain, while 22% suggested she would have voted to Leave.

One of the main antagonists in Corrie, Barlow’s feuds with other characters give her a hostile, quarrelsome persona. Her toxic relationships in the fictional Weatherfield, the inner-city town in Salford the programme is based on, are a key part of the world’s longest running soap opera.

Interestingly, when the poll focuses specifically on northerners, the percentage who think Barlow would vote Leave increases, while the Remain percentage stays consistent at 7%.

Alan Partridge is another character YouGov features. The awkward personality is a parody of British figures in the media, particularly because of his cringe, self-important persona.

Although the character is based between Norwich and London, Partridge was created and portrayed by Steve Coogan, the comic from Middleton. Indeed, at times, Coogan’s Mancunian accent can still be heard when delivering Partridge’s socially inept, tactless lines.

When asked which way Partridge would have voted in the referendum, the public suggested that he had a slight lean towards Leave. In the north of England, the polling results were much closer. Just two percentage points separated the Leave and Remain figures.

Coogan’s creation is credited as being influential in the development of other comedies based on social awkwardness, such as Peep Show and The Inbetweeners.

Feature image: Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) and Jennie (Susannah Fielding) in BBC One’s This Time With Alan Partridge series 2. Credit: BBC/Baby Cow/Gary Moyes. Photographer: Gary Moyes; image copyright: Baby Cow

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