Clipboard or no clipboard – don’t be a troll

I wasn’t going to chime in on the Stacey Soloman, clipboard saga but after seeing her talk about it yesterday on ITV’s Loose Women, it got me thinking about the whole situation again.

For those of you who haven’t seen the news, Stacey flew back to London from Australia where she had been presenting the TV show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here with her boyfriend Joe Swash. Less than 24 hours after touching down in London, Stacey gave her first panto performance in Milton Keynes. Social media went in to melt down when a photo was posted of her holding a clipboard and apparently reading her lines because she hadn’t had time to learn them whilst she was in Australia. People thought that if she couldn’t have been bothered to learn her lines then she shouldn’t have taken the job, knowing she wouldn’t have time for any rehearsals before the show opened. Theatre actors in particular took offence to a celebrity being cast in a show that a million actors would have put the time and effort in to that Stacey seemingly hadn’t.

Stacey’s reasoning for using the clipboard was not because she hadn’t learnt her lines but because she hadn’t been present for the technical rehearsals and hadn’t learnt important moments where she would need to give the signal for things to happen backstage (sometimes when an actor says a particular line of dialogue, that is actually also telling someone to do something backstage). To be fair, she apparently only used the clipboard for the first matinee performance and by that evenings show, she didn’t need it.

The point that everyone seems to be missing here is that it isn’t her fault, it is the producers who should be getting blamed. Producers would have known that she would not be in London until the day before the show opened and would have no time for rehearsals with the cast or to run through things on stage. Yet the producers still gave her the part and took the risk of it working out ok. To be fair to Stacey, had the clipboard not been used during that first performance, she would have been praised online for having just flown back from Australia and been onstage less than 24 hours later! I don’t really think the blame for celebrity casting sits with the celebrities themselves. If someone offered me a wad of cash to do panto then I’d probably give it ago, despite having no experience or skills. I think everyone would take the opportunity, if it was offered to them.

Now, the reason I decided to write this blog is because the trolling didn’t stop there. Eastenders actor and theatre performer Aaron Sidwell, commented that it was ‘shameful and she shouldn’t cash her paycheck’. Stacey’s boyfriend and former Eastenders actor Joe Swash hit back online with a tyrant of abuse at Aaron, saying his opinion was ‘shit’ and that he should ‘pipe down’ and ‘do your own thing badly’. On Loose Women yesterday, the panel were very quick to show the tweet sent by Aaron and launch into a conversation about online trolling. What they failed to show was the trolling that Stacey’s boyfriend went on to do to Aaron when he was merely expressing an opinion. I felt it a little one sided to make Aaron out to be the bad man on national television when the messages which followed from Joe Swash were far worse than anything he had said. It felt like the Loose Women were throwing Aaron under the bus a little for no reason.

I love Stacey Soloman and can’t wait to see her do her thing this weekend in panto. She isn’t to blame for working hard and taking the opportunities that are given to her. But the way the trolling was discussed on daytime television yesterday, felt very much one sided and unfair.

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