I, Daniel Blake star Dave Johns says he’s been told to sign on at the Jobcentre after having his work cancelled due to coronavirus.
The 64-year-old actor and comedian rose to prominence in Ken Loach’s 2016 film about a Geordie carpenter who, after suffering a heart attack, is left unemployed.
His character is forced to navigate the UK’s employment support allowance system as he fights to keep his welfare benefits, despite not being able to work.
The irony wasn’t lost on Johns, who gave what he called a “Corona Virus Update” on Twitter.
He wrote: “#work cancelled. I’ve just been told to claim employment and support allowance, this is going to be a laugh when I walk into the job Center”.
He promised his 7,800 followers “I’ll send photos”, along with the message: “Because of coronavirus all work cancelled life Imitating art!!!”.
One Twitter-user joked: “At least you already know your lines”.
Referring to the recent suspension of all Jobcentre appointments for three months, another fan wrote: “They’re shut mate. Online won’t have the same effect I’m afraid”.
In another message on Facebook, Johns asked: “Shall I bring the BAFTA, No?… too much!”
Loach’s gritty drama won a BAFTA and nabbed the director his second Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival.
It’s not known what role Johns was currently working on, but he was due to premiere a new stand up show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.
Since appearing in I, Daniel Blake, Johns starred in 2019 choir drama Fisherman’s Friends and will appear in Blithe Spirit alongside Dame Judi Dench – which was due to be out later this year.
Johns isn’t the only actor to be struggling.
The freelance nature of many of the roles makes the industry particularly vulnerable to the pandemic, which has spread to at least 169 countries and territories.
Creative industry bodies including Bectu and Directors UK have asked the Department for Work and Pensions to provide proportional income support to freelance workers.
Meanwhile, the Creative Industries Federation have called the government’s social distancing measures – which are advisory rather than an outright ban – “a crippling blow to the UK’s creative industries”.