Lest we forget that in the 2000s Dyer was making shows like Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men and Football Hooligans International: reality TV shows in which he would do his hardest hard-man stare into camera and try to sound hard and explain how he was going to go and meet some very hard men. It’s a good job we didn’t know that Edward III was Dyer’s 22x great grandfather, because it might have ruined whatever street cred he had at the time.
Dyer appeared in so many of these shows that Simon Amstell’s quip on Never Mind the Buzzcocks in 2008 was ‘Have you ever been in a show called Mindless Violence, Danny?’ (Which was quite funny.) Later on in the episode, during the ‘next lines’ round, Simon Amstell reads, ‘My old man’s a dustman’. Dyer, self-consciously touching his eyebrow but grinning and being a good sport, replies, ‘and ‘e wears a dustman’s ‘at’. (Which doesn’t feel like that much fun anymore.) Times have changed.
Because something else was happening circa 2007-8, wasn’t it? In fact, in October 2008, the same month that the aforementioned Buzzcocks episode aired, congress passed a law to bail out the US financial system. Now, over ten years on from the crash, Danny Dyer, against all odds, has become a kind of…national treasure? He has always made a living from playing or parodying himself (yes, even on Eastenders), bobbing like a cork in a sea of producers who have all got a version of ‘Danny Dyer’ that they want to portray, whether it’s hard man, or unlikely inheritor of royal blood. In 2019, at a time when the 99% is feeling particularly disenfranchised, Danny has become a hero who’s Freaky-Fridayed himself into the 1%.