The publisher "Mills & Boon" is apparently the equivalent of "Harlequin Romance" in the States. Kathryn Hughes tried to write something for them, but she couldn't hide her contempt for the form, and M & B declined to publish it.
The would-be author pack was welcoming but realistic. Everyone thinks they can knock off a Mills & Boon, but it's harder than it looks. The really important thing, said the bumph sternly, was not to condescend to your readers. Clearly, the company had grown weary of submissions from smarty-pants who attempted to ventriloquise a mass-market fiction voice while failing to disguise that they felt it a bit beneath them, rather like Dick Van Dyke doing cockney.
I don't get even a hint from D.V.D.'s performance in Mary Poppins that he felt it was all a bit beneath him. He had a ball working on that movie; he just didn't know how to do a cockney accent. You know, when you ask an actor if he can ride a horse, he says "Yes" even if he can't.
Wouldn't it be a truly subtle performance if he had been hired to play a cockney, then they did it with contempt, managed to slip that past not only Walt Disney but also everyone who had seen it in theaters and on video for 40 years, and the first and only person to pick up on it was Kathryn Hughes in the Guardian?
Time elapsed since premiere of Mary Poppins:
Time elapsed since someone mentioned D.V.D.'s accent: