Rainbows End: Characters
Deidre Greenwood (Landlady). Magical lands should have gatekeepers, and Deidre is as formidable as any dragon or three-headed dog. Endlessly quoting the Bible and complaining about her aches and pains, Deidre possesses the same feel-good, happy-go-lucky vibe as Dot Cotton. Deidre owns 3, Rainbows End, but never suspects that her impecunious tenants are fairies.
Ron (Oberon, King of the Fairies). Part usurped prince, part crumbling aristocrat, Ron wavers between tragedy and comedy. By turns histrionic and curmudgeonly, Ron laments the decline of his kingdom, feeling keenly the indignities of modern life. Ron’s roots lie in Arthurian legend and Celtic myth, so he first sings a folk ballad. However, Ron is not above singing a G&S patter song and dancing a tango with his unruly wife. Like so many impoverished aristocrats, Ron’s first loyalty is to his country estate: the Basement Flat is all that remains of Fairyland.
Tanya (Titania, Queen of the Fairies). Shape-shifting at will to a black cat or a panther, Tanya’s leather bondage gear owes as much to Marvel’s Catwoman as to Shakespeare’s Queen of the Fairies. But Tanya’s dominatrix persona reflects her feisty independence, and when she returns to Fairyland, Tanya wears bright gypsy clothes. Tanya’s vampish nature and fiery sexuality find musical expression in Romany music and Argentine tango. Whereas Shakespeare’s fairy queen was the butt of a cruel joke, Tanya is always in the saddle, cracking the whip.
Robin (Male Puck). No longer a mischievous child, the puck of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is now an ageing rocker much in the vein of Keith Richards or Robert Plant. He keeps a stall in the market, selling everything from novelty garden gnomes to the kinds of soft drugs paraphernalia sold in head shops. Robin sings a Led Zeppelin-like anthem in Episode Three and a Nirvana-like number in Episode Four. Robin is unshakeably loyal to Ron, lending him money, hatching get-rich-quick schemes and cheering his master up with dope, tea and sympathy.
Raj (Changeling). Unsurprisingly, the Indian boy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is just as attractive as a young man as he was as a child, and every man and woman falls under the spell of his good looks and charm. Raj leads spectacular bhangra and Bollywood numbers, but there’s also something of Prince—or even Michael Jackson—in his song and dance routines in Episodes Three and Four. Raj is a changeling, so he is equally at home in the every waking world of humanity and the secret dream world of the fairies. He possesses a dancer’s swagger and self-confidence, like Tony in Saturday Night Fever, but Raj is also capable of tenderness and compassion, as is shown in his protective attitude towards Nightingale.
Nightingale (Female Puck). With her dreadlocks and hip-hop style, Nightingale is at home on the graffiti-tagged streets of south London. In the first episode, we see her selling head-shop paraphernalia and rapping over a sample from Cher’s ‘Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves’. In the fourth episode, she shares a reggae number with her yardie gangster uncle, Caliban. Nightingale is a puck, like Robin, but she has fallen head-over-heels for the Sloaney property developer, Nick Butt-Weaver.
Nick Butt-Weaver (Property Developer). Nick is a Cityboy in a Saville Row suit and a stripy shirt. Privately educated, handsome and charming, Nick has a secret weakness for kinky sex. Though Nightingale dreams of a life of suburban domesticity, Nick is never happier than when he’s been transformed into a horse and is being whipped around the track by the dominatrix-turned-jockey, Tanya.
Moth (Fairy Musician and Chamberlain). Moth still treats Ron with the reverence due to a great monarch. Proud of his post as chamberlain, Moth closes his eyes to the decline of Fairyland. Moth is the kind of real-ale-swilling, Morris-dancing, byway-rambling folkie, who has a bushy beard and pheasant feathers in his hat. Moth is one of the Four Fairies, the house band for the show.
Mustardseed (Fairy Musician). Although servant to the King of the Faeries, Mustardseed looks like a Traveller, with tousled hair and dark gypsy eyes. Though ultimately loyal, he can be scornful and insubordinate.
Peaseblossom (Fairy Musician). Peaseblossom possesses the cunning of the spiv. He wears a homburg hat and a singlet, and is always a little high. Like Mustardseed, he can be mocking and disrespectful—and regards Moth as a toadying creep.
Cobweb (Fairy Musician). Cobweb may be a huge dreadlocked crusty in DMs and a T-shirt , but he’s childlike in his simplicity and innocence. He sniggers at Tanya’s erotic adventures and lacks the sophistication to understand the worthlessness of fairy gold or even to grasp the majesty from which Ron has fallen.
Brendon Honey (Property Developer). Brendon Honey is Nick’s partner in Mushroom Developments. After the Gherkin, the Cheesegrater and the Shard, Brendon dreams of building the Knob on the site of Rainbows End, bringing City money to lowly Lewisham. Born and bred in Hackney, Brendon is proud of his working-class origins and contemptuous of the public-school-educated Nick. Rapacious in his appetites for food and money, Brendon is utterly charmless.
Jean-Philippe (Architect). If Brendon is body, then Jean-Philippe is mind. He is the intellectual French architect behind the Knob. Regularly quoting symbolist poetry, prone to rambling philosophical digressions, Jean-Philippe is, alas, incomprehensible to Brendon, Nick and just about everyone else.
Sir Thomas Grindshaw (Banker). CEOs of investment banks have no time for airy-fairy notions, like imagination or faith—which is a pity as Sir Thomas’s wealth rests on a secure foundation of exotic derivatives, property bubbles and the ‘irrational exuberance’ of markets. Combining the manic intelligence of Doctor Strangelove with the cold ruthlessness of Ernst Blofeld, Sir Thomas sings a Kraftwerk-like hymn to hard facts and hard numbers in Episode Five.