Friday, 13 June 2014
Dum, De, Dum, De Dum, De Dum
I have never liked "soaps", be it "The Newcomers", "Compact", "Coronation Street" or any of the other real life dramas.
That's not to say they don't deliver incredibly good television. Coronation Street in the 80's and early 90's had knowing, intelligent, funny scripts. But that is a distant memory.
This evening the missus was watching "East Enders". I had to go in to ask her to turn the volume down. It wasn't that - the characters were all shouting at maximum volume. Do people really live like that? Are their lives so disorganised that the only way they can get a thought over is to shout it at top volume.
It's a long way from "Mrs Dale's Diary" and the early "Archers". Then, much of the dialogue was taken up with "glad to meet you", "Hello", "Goodbye" and "do you mind if I smoke?" " Not at all I don't but don't let me stop you."
"Paul Temple" broadcast thro' the time tunnel that is Radio 4Extra is an early 1950's programme. This at a time of post war deprivation, Paul Temple and his wife Steve, had a man servant, endless trips to the night clubs of London and constantly topping up their gin and tonic.
It's brilliant. It's of a time when audiences had to be hand held through plots so everything, I mean everything is laboured and repeated. There may be three murders an episode but that didn't get in the way of Paul and Steve mouthing inconsequentials about whether the egg for breakfast was boiled sufficiently to ensure that the yoke was suitable running but the white had a reassuring firmness.
Form and status had its place. Men were never called by their forenames. Every man in "Paul Temple" world had either been to a top notch public school or else had served in one or other of the Wars. So it was "Temple", "Jones" never "Paul". I only recall Steve, his wife calling him that.
Steve, the wife, spent most of her time asking whether he'd like a drink or ensuring the car had been parked in the garage. She knows her place. She's the appendage, the "attractive wife", the subject of much physical violence. Except sometimes the writers aren't so sure. So occassionally this mouse roars and the characters are all over the place. Sometimes she tells Paul " No", sometimes she comes up with a brilliant solution to a presenting criminal problem. Paul invariably laughs off her genius and the plot reverts to its sexist ways.
But I love it. It's in the past: always attractive. It's well written in a limited way and it's under played. There is no constant high octane panic, neurosis, madness that seems to be a must have in the current crop of soaps.
I include "The Archers" in that. It is a great sadness that when Tom Forrest died the fabled Ambridge faded away to be replaced by wide boys like Brian Aldridge and Nelson Gabriel not to mention Shuna's frightful husband.
One way of bringing "The Archers" back into the fold would be to transfer in the Rev Richard Coles from Saturday Live. He's wasted there. A nice little living in Ambridge, lots of willing helpers and the chance of a real set to over a gay priest would take us back to the days of Dan Archer.
Now it's no longer worries about unnatural practices with the local Black Faced sheep, it's all fornication and lust amongst the lower orders and juveniles.
No wonder we're heading for an Islamic Caliphate in Bromsgrove.