Here in the UK, in Radio 4-land in particular, people tend to gush about Stephen Fry, who wears his erudition and education on his sleeve. Personally, I’ve always rated his former comedy partner Hugh Laurie as a more well-rounded individual. Stephen Fry can write/talk about music, but Hugh Laurie can play instruments.
It turns out I’m on the same wavelength as the French (big surprise), who (according to an article in today’s Observer) have fallen in love with the TV series House, and have pushed a translated novel written by Laurie in the mid-1990s into the best sellers list.
This is a great example of how culturally specific audience appeal can be. The French see people like Stephen Fry on their panel/talk shows every day, but Laurie is unique.
House, in particular, is an awkward, arrogant misfit with a distaste for authority and a need to do things his own way.
No wonder France adores him, said Valérie Hurier, television editor at Télérama magazine. “He is so cynical and politically incorrect. He's misanthropic and he breaks with the orthodox rules, has no time for following protocol and plays with laws, but all for a noble aim. For all that, we absolutely love him.”