So, like, here’s the thing yeah? W1A is like a BBC comedy that like, takes the piss out of the BBC yeah? What’s like soooo refreshing about it, is that it like shows that the BBC can laugh at like itself yeah?
It’s got all those top, top actors from that thing that took the piss out of the Olympics organisers, 2112 yeah and kinda done exactly the same thing with the BBC. Y’know the corporate bullshit, the marketing spin, the like psycho-babble yeah, the dim witted nepotistic interns, the massive salaries, the petty office politics and back biting, yeah?
It’s sooooo life like, but here’s the best bit, it shows that the BBC can’t like win, whatever they do cos’ like in the news room, they get accused of like being pro-Arab by the Israelis and like pro-Israeli by the left, but y’know it’s THE BBC maan, they’re just pro-TRUTH yeah?
I mean, what I’ve noticed since my dad got me an internship with BBC Media City is that like, you get to meet like all different types of people, like really, really cool blacks and asians and like really, really cool gays and lesbians and like some went to Oxford and like some went to Cambridge, some even went to like Durham but y’know after work, we’re all just one big BBC family, meeting for cocktails at KroBar where my friend, Abbie works behind the bar and is having an affair with a 6music presenter. She’s been promised an internship yeah but that’s like top, top secret yeah, don’t want his wife finding out.
Anyway, W1A is like obviously set in London not Media City, where we northerners work in like Coronation Street scallyville. There’s this like really, really meta-ironic storyline where this guy from Yorkshire or somewhere is trying to get his like comedy about Yorkshire commissioned and it’s been in like development for years and he’s no further on, even though he’s like got this BBC person pushing it and that’s soooo true.
I know a guy from one of the local sink estates who valets my car and told me he did a comedy idea based on a family who sit around the telly all the time and like bicker and stuff. It was in development for like 12 years and went nowhere cos all these BBC types kept going through meeting after meeting with one person passing to another person, all the way up twenty eight lines of management before it got passed to like Baby Cow. I mean who’s interested in stuff like that, it’s sooo generic and dull?
The really, really, meta-peta-ironic thing about W1A is that obviously, it was commissioned by like the very commissioners who actually do reject scripts all the time or sit on them for years and then commission stuff like W1A that like takes the piss out of themselves and that’s just soooo clever.
It’s like Gogglebox in a way, a tv programme about people watching tv programmes, that’s kinda just like real life, all the family sat around eating like pizza and all over the country in like Scotsland and Geordie Scouserland, everyone’s like sooooo hooked on University Challenge and Prince Harry’s Bi-Polar Piss Orgy yeah, and like it just shows how we’re all part of one big Team GB family, laughing and crying and getting angry about Bulgarians, even blacks and Pakistanis too.
That’s what makes it unmissable yeah, that’s what the car valeting scally will never understand, watching people watching people watch tv is like sooooo meta-peta-zeta ironic that even Denise and Dave from like The Royle Family get to narrate it. Wow, here’s the thing, I thought I’d seen the most meta-peta-zeta-xxxxeta comedy of like all time with W1A but then I watched The Trip In Italy and like, it’s sooooooo self-referential because it’s like Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing themselves as they drive around Italy eating really, really, gorgeous food.
It obviously costs a fortune and they’re kinda like sending themselves up and giving each other banter about their careers and trying to out do each other all the time with their favourite impressions just like in The Trip but this time it’s in Italy yeah and that’s sooooooo clever. Like so obviously taking the piss out of all these generic celebrity travelogues and poncey foodie programmes but at the same time, getting the BBC to pay them to ponce about Italy eating great food.
Obviously the production costs are massive but that’s OK, Coogan and Brydon are bankers yeah and Baby Cow is like soooooo innovative. My brother’s got like an internship there as like deputy head of commissioning development and he’s writing his own script about like an intern who’s writing a comedy about an intern writing a comedy at a comedy production company who gets it to the BBC’s comedy commissioning editor who has a word with my dad, who’s like the head of the BBC and he like says, ‘it’s up to you but I think it’s a six part, prime time winner if we can get Coogan and Brydon on board’ and then like Coogan appears as Partridge and throws a cheese in his own face and then tv explodes in a black hole of post-post-post gravity vacuum irony. Yeah?
Last night on Newshite, Jeremy Paxman attempted yet another of his hypocritical and condescending broadcasting broadsides. This time his target wasn’t a slimeball politician or a free thinking comedian, it was Jerry Springer, a man synonymous with ‘trash TV’
Behind Jeremy as he launched his introduction, tabloid headlines screamed about ‘benefits scroungers’ and Jez spoke about the trend for ‘poverty porn’ tv. There followed clips of Jerry’s show where women fought each other and threw the contents of a handily prepared wedding buffet at each other and then leathered each other.
Jezza tried the ‘exploitation of poor people’ tack but Jerry batted his slow delivery off with a typically slimey response, which went much like this :
“TV isn’t just for rich people Jeremy, we’re very lucky, we got the breaks, people listen to us but no-one listens to these people and coming on my show makes them feel important for a week. They get picked up in fancy cars, get to stay in a plush hotel and then we get them to throw food at each other and tear each other’s hair out on live TV to an audience of millions. That’s not exploiting them, that’s ‘listening’ to them.”
Paxman did his comedy smirk, tried to act tough and spoke about ‘journalism’ and how the BBC would never exploit people or deliberately do them harm, which Jerry just laughed at and so he should.
Springer is a maggot however he dresses his ‘bumfight’ freak show up as ‘egaliatarianism.’ But atleast he’s self ware enough to know what line of attack the moralists at the BBC will take, whereas Paxman must actually believe that the BBC is not a part of the same tawdry circus, with shows like ‘Saints and Scroungers’ and ‘People Like Us’ and numerous other ‘laugh at poor people/mentally ill people’ ‘docu-soaps’ and ‘reality’ shos they’ve screened for decades.
Paxman is a multi-millionaire, tax loophole sponging, state funded parasite who is paid his vast salaries by the kind of people he pretends to despise; the suits, the bureaucrats, the corporate lickspittles but he’s jsut another self-deluded phony cracking on to be a ‘maverick.’
Just watch one of his cackhanded GSCE ‘history’ programmes and you’ll find a man who is so self-regarding that he makes David Starkey look like Alan Titchmarsh. Springer on the other hand has an excuse; he’s American
One of the proudest boasts of the BBC is that its reputation for journalistic impartiality is world renown and that the corporation is a litmus test for bi-partisanship, balance and integrity. This is and always has been an utter myth that is disproved in each and every news report that the BBC runs each and every day. Now, I realise that this accusation is entirely subjective and one person’s idea of impartiality may be another’s propaganda but the accusation that the BBC has ‘shifted to the right’ is for many viewers, just stating an obvious truth.
Back in August of last year, I submitted a complaint to the BBC about their continual use of the right-wing campaign group, The Tax Payer’s Alliance to comment on various aspects of government policy. This was a clear breach of their own, highly detailed and explicit editorial guidelines on interviewing ‘campaign groups’ and wasn’t merely a one off but a regular occurrence. The TPA naturally, crow about their media successes and their cosy relationship with the media, even using BBC reports on their main webpage. This is how the TPA describes itself and its aims :
“High taxes damage the British economy and our way of life. Burdensome taxation stunts economic growth and tens of thousands of jobs are being lost as huge tax bills reduce incentives to work, invest and save. In the long-run, higher taxes make us all poorer.
The TPA’s mission is to:
Reverse the perception that big government is necessary and irreversible
Explain the benefits of a low tax economy
Give taxpayers a voice in the corridors of power
Our enthusiastic campaign team communicates our research through the media. We receive over 600 media hits each month and work closely with journalists to respond to a wide range of news stories and collaborate on special exposés. We provide spokesmen for radio and TV interviews at a moment’s notice, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.”
I asked the BBC what criteria were used for selecting spokespeople from the TPA, who made these decisions and on what basis? I also copied in the BBC Trust in this complaint, who simply washed their hands of it and told me ‘it was an editorial issue.’ The BBC’s editorial watchdog, unsurprisingly, decided that my complaint was groundless. Although the BBC complaints procedure states that they try to respond to all complaints within 10 working days, it took them almost two months (12th October) to respond to mine and this is what I got…..
“You have outlined a number of editorial guidelines that you believe the BBC has breached, however you have not supplied any specific examples of when you believe these breaches occurred. We can therefore only answer your queries in general terms.
What we can say is that we refute the suggestion that the BBC has an inappropriate relationship with the TPA. The BBC makes no judgement on the views or aims of the TPA. When they have appeared on BBC programmes they do so to take part in a debate and it is the responsibility of the presenter to chair that debate fairly and challenge the guests accordingly.
Having an organisation or individual appear on a programme does not amount to bias. What is important is that the organisation or individual is interviewed fairly, challenged where appropriate and balanced by alternative opinions and arguments, either as part of the particular programme or elsewhere in our output.
We appreciate that you may disagree with the views of the Taxpayers Alliance, but we feel that it’s better in a debate to include the widest range of viewpoints possible. As you have not provided us with an example of when you feel the TPA has not been fairly pressed or has appeared without balance or challenge, we cannot comment further at this stage. If you can provide a specific example, we can investigate matters.
Regarding your specific point on the use of BBC interviews on the TPA website, we have specific guidelines and agreements regarding the use of BBC material on external sites. We have forwarded your concerns to our Brand Enforcement team and if they believe these guidelines have been breached, they will take the appropriate action. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.”
So, there it is. It’s up to ME, as a humble viewer to PROVE my case by providing THEM with a SPECIFIC EXAMPLE of when a breach occurred. Now, I don’t have ‘catch up’ on my telly or the resources to go through hours and hours of news footage in order to PROVE my case. I’m not an academic or a media expert, I’ve got a REAL job. My memory, however addled it is, seemed to recall the same TPA spokesperson being asked to comment on issues as varied as HS2, immigration and employment law. I’m sure all it would take for the BBC to either dismiss or confirm my complaint, is to search through their vast news archive yet this, apparently, is something they are reluctant to do.
It’s not hard, all you have to do is go onto the TPA’s own website and wade through the 199 videos they’ve posted of various interviews :
I’ve taken a quick look over these videos and here are just some of the BBC outlets where TPA spokespeople appear :
BBC 6 o’clock News
BBC News channel
BBC Daily Politics
BBC Sunday Politics
BBC Sunday Morning Live
BBC News Paper Review
BBC The Big Question
BBC The One Show
BBC Look North
BBC North West Today
BBC Midlands Today
BBC East Midlands Today
BBC Look East
BBC South Today
BBC Wales Today
BBC South East Today
BBC Inside Out London
BBC Radio 4 ‘You & Yours’
BBC Radio 4 ‘The Moral Maze’
BBC Radio 5Live
BBC Radio London
BBC Radio Devon
BBC Radio Bristol
BBC Radio Gloucester
BBC Radio Northampton
BBC radio Humberside
BBC Radio West Midlands
Now, I’m not saying that there appears to be a symbiotic relationship between the BBC and the TPA, maybe it’s just journalistic laziness, which would perhaps be the kindest way of explaining this or a more sinister interpreatation is that the BBC actively seek out the TPA to voice their often rebid views on everything from immigration rules to cutting benefits.
Naturally, the BBC’s pathetic response didn’t appease me and I sent MY response to THEIR response on the same day (12th October) and received a further reply on the 28th December (over two months later) to say that ‘they usually respond within 20 working days but this complaint may take longer than that.) Well to date ( 20th Feb) it’s taken 89 working days, so I think the BBC must either be really worried or, more likely, not really bothered.
By using the TPA alongside government ministers, academics, social policy and industry experts, the BBC legitimises what is essentially an extreme libertarian group of big industry funded fanatics, camouflaged as a ‘grass roots campaign for lower taxes.’ The TPA claims to have up to 75,000 supporters which, compared to say Unite The Union’s 2.5 million members is pretty small fry. Yet, if the BBC interviewed Len McCluskey as regularly as they do Jonathan Isaby, then the Tory press would be howling for the blood of new Witchfinder General, Tony ‘Baron’ Hall Of Birkenhead CBE.
Paranoid lefty or disgruntled licence fee payer? My beef with the BBC goes much further than their cosy relationships with right wing pressure groups. No, I believe that this is only a small symptom of the corporation’s institutional class prejudices and that their entire output across news, drama, documentary, entertainment, sport and current affairs is guided by the same public school and Oxbridge elitism and prejudices. I don’t believe that this is a conspiracy but simply a manifestation of the kind of people who have always populated the corridors of power at Broadcasting House.
As with every other facet of the British establishment; the aristocracy, the church, the military, the judiciary, the civil service, the intelligence services, the house of Lords and commons, the City of London, the Freemasons, the media is people by upper middle class and toff chaps and gels of a certain stamp and the BBC in particular has always been a place where old school tie cronyism and outright nepotism rules the roost.
The problem with the BBC is not, as former DG, Greg Dyke claimed, that it is hideously white as that is simply untrue. No the real problem with the BBC is that it’s hideously posh. Black, white, male, female, gay, straight, old, young; it’s always the same voices, the same backgrounds, the same attitudes, the same prejudices. The BBC distorts the true diversity of Britain to suit its own narrow agenda. It reports strikes and protests with the same selective choice of language and interviews as it does conflicts and wars, it reports business and economics with the same upbeat tone as it reports unions and left wing campaigners with the same paternalist hostility.
The BBC is a corrupt, sleazy, self-satisfied, unaccountable, bullying monolith because politicians have encouraged it to be so. It is not and never has been the paragon of virtue that, through its own arrogance, it has convinced itself to be. I’m not against the BBC in principle as I believe that state funding for ‘public service broadcasting’ is laudable as long as it serves the public, all of the ‘public’ not only those attitudes, opinions and lifestyles converge with those in power.
Remember all those boss ‘lifestyle’ shows of the 90s and 00s that encouraged everyone to buy houses they couldn’t afford and move to Mediterranean resorts where they could live the good life for ever and ever? Now that the south sea bubble of the home owning Utopia has proven to be just another capitalist con trick, the presenters of these programmes are having to re-position themselves as ascetic frugalists and money saving austerity gurus. Here are just some of the many programmes now appearing on all channels
Sarah Beeney’s Selling Smack
Since she lost 3 million doing up a disused windmill, ‘Beeney’ (TM) is now reduced to grafting wraps of brown outside the gates of her daughter’s private school.
Phil and Kirsty’s Button Mission
Tory millionaire icons, Phil and Kirsty (TM) want to show YOU how to survive the global fincancial meltdown by sewing buttons to trees and buildings. Buttons are the new gold as paper currency becomes obsolete so start hoarding now.
A Place In The Sunderland Slums
Forced to move back from their villas on the Costa del Sol, broke ex pats find themselves living in bed sits owned by gangsters who steal all their housing benefit. Serves em right!
Super-Scrimping Hero Benefit Scroungers
Undercover reporter, Dom The Grass follows so-called disabled Afghan war veterans who are claiming for wheelchairs on the NHS yet still spend money on beer and ciggies.
Nigella’s Holocaust Cook Book
Eating well and hosting lavish parties for pretend pals doesn’t have to be expensive as former Auschwitz prisoner, Nigella (TM) Lawson knows too well. Given a few scraps and a lot of imagination, even wood can be made into delicious stews that will feed a family of five for a week.
Ant & Dec’s Bedroom Tax Takeaway
The loveable Geordies invite poor people onto stage and try to catch them out about their living arrangements on behalf of judges David Cameron, Gary Barlow and Carol Vorderman. ‘It’s for yer severely disabled son?’ Pull the other one!!
People Like Them
The BBC demonise feckless, workshy proles by selecting a load of gullible meffs to walk about in their pjs smoking weed whilst laughing at albinos. (sub-titles)
The Worst Place To Be A Commissioning Editor
You think you’ve got problems? Well, for you and me it’s another day in paradise compared to a Sri Lankan arse farmer with no legs and a cold sore. I’ve had to move from Surrey to Salford you know and there are no decent schools around here for Archibald and Gelatine.
Kim & Aggie’s Buck House Cleanathon
We’ve all got to do our bit to pull together and weather this financial storm of Johnny Foreigner’s making, so the Queen herself has enlisted the nation’s favourite cleaning ladies, ‘Kim and Aggie’ (TM) to do a deep clean of all her royal palaces, beginning with Buck House, saving the nation a fortune on Cilit Bang and bogus passports.
Keeping Up With The Cambridges
Look, it’s not all doom and gloom, Wills & Kate are a young couple in love expecting their firsy baby. This edited fly on the wall piece of royalist propaganda shows how the Cambridges are just a normal couple like you or me, as they discuss names for the little bloodsucker and try out a new range of gifts from grateful tax avoiders and child killers.
Shit Train Journeys with Michael Portillo
Due to licence fee cuts, Portillo (TM) can no longer swan off on the Orient Express but has to make do on the Northern Rail journey from Warrington Bank Quay to Manchester Piccadilly. The former right wing, formerly gay, former minister now dresses in clashing pastels and minces about with a brolly, so beware the Patricroft stop Micky!
The Leveson Report was supposed to be a ‘watershed’ moment in British media history. This was going to be the point at which press, particularly tabloid newspapers, would be held to account for their malignant influence and sordid excesses. The phone hacking scandal wasn’t much of a story until ‘real people’ like the parents of murdered schoolgirl, Millie Dowler became part of this tale of dispicable journalistic and editorial practices. The net widened to police who provided tip offs or worked directly for the press barons, covering up or failing to investigate, sorting out juicy internships for their kids and ending up on the Murdoch payroll. It also exposed the level of political cosyness between leading ministers and even Prime Ministers and leading tabloid editors and media owners.
This was hardly news. Unlike TV news, newspapers have no obligation to even pretend to be impartial because we have a so-called ‘free press.’ This ‘free press’ is ofcourse the plaything of billionaire moguls who pervert the news agenda to their own selfish interests. Powerful men and women tend to want other powerful men and women to do their bidding. Hence, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron worked hand-in-hand with newspaper barons in the hope that they’d stay on-side and not make life difficult for their governments. News International, because they had the biggest slice of the British media, were especially courted and Murdoch revelled in his reputation as a political King Maker.
The Sun especially was regarded as a paper that won or lost elections. It was by far and away the biggest tabloid of the 80s but The Sun’s diet of anti-left wing propaganda, celebrity smut, racist bigotry and tedious misogyny never really won general elections. It may have swayed some flakey Sun readers but in the grand scheme of things, The Sun’s and News International’s influence was always greatly exagerated. In the 90s, The Daily Mail and its hate agenda replaced The Sun as the paper that set the political tone. This was the paper of those highly prized Middle English voters, ‘hard working families’ and ‘aspirational go getters’, the ones who had no politcal allegiance and therefore could be easily bribed. Blair in particular seemed to shape his policies depending on the perceived reaction of Mail editor, Paul Dacre and his 5th column of hysterical, ultra-right wing fifty columnists.
The TV news, supposedly removed from all the tittle tattle and partisan hypberbole of newspapers, nevertheless followed their agenda. The whole cycle of sensationalism and engineered outrage span around and around. The Hillsborough Panel Report and the Leveson Report seemed to coincide to highlight how, for decades, the establishment co-ordinated cover ups to camouflage their own sordid tracks. Hillsborough exposed how the political elite, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the coroners, the FA, the local auhtorities, the football clubs and a compliant media conspired to create a narrative that blamed Liverpool fans for their own tragic deaths.
Such tactics had aready been used during the miner’s strike, when the media including the ever ‘unbiased and balanced’ BBC were manipulated to spread a narrative of violent, undemocratic, bullying strikers and brave, noble scabs and policemen protecting the country from economic blackmail and social breakdown. Funny how this marvellous ‘free press’ of ours never uncovered any of the Tory dirty tricks but simply towed the establishment line.
The Royal Charter agreed by all main political leaders as a sell out sop to Leveson, is being presented as a Draconian attack on ‘free speech’ and the press’s ability to bring the establishment to account by er, the owners of newspapers. Well, they’ve failed to do this for decades. Even now documents relating to Hillsborough and the Shrewsbury blacklist are being withheld under the pretext of ‘national security.’ Maybe the real reason is that these documentss demonstrate just how far up the chain of command the cover up went, straight to Edward Heath’s and Margaret Thatcher’s door infact. Yes, good old Maggie, Pinochet’s pal is taking a lead from the old torturer’s book, acting the doddery senile Dowager these days so can’t be placed before MPs.
Every single day a mainstream television and radio programme will ‘take a look at the papers’ and this is excused because the papers are read by millions of people, even in the digital age. It’s ‘news’ in and of itself. Yet, millions more don’t read papers and those who do can sort the wheat from the chaffe. Take yesterday’s ‘Andrew Marr’ show presented by Eddie Mair. Now Mair is being hailed as some kind of journalist hero for giving Boris Johnson a hard time. Johnson’s public image as an amiable buffoon has been carefully calculated to disguise his obnoxious right wing views, the views he spewed about Hillsborough back when he was a humble hack at the Spectator not the Mayor Of London.
Yet before this intrview, Mair had sat with Dame Joan Bakewell and some half wit reactionnary from the Spectator as they reviewed the Sunday papers. It was the usual sketch; guest highlights some issue they can pontificate on, all indulge in ‘light banter.’ Bakewell was pro-Leveson and Spectator hack was anti. Joan semed to be the token liberal, a BBC careerist for many decades, now promoted to some kind of elder stateswoman and sage. Yes, of all the things happening in the real world, Bakewell decided to scoff at a Telegraph article where John Prescott dared to suggest maybe it was time for the Queen to step down.
It was as if Prezza had asked for Ant and Dec to be genitally tortured (not a bad idea) such was the dismissal of this ridiculous idea. ‘The Queen is universally admired’ quoth the Dame. Well, that’s just your opinion Joan, it’s not a FACT. Now ‘Lord’ Prescott’s hardly a socialist firebrand these days and he wasn’t even asking for a republican alternative to the monarchy, just a hand over to some other in bred Hillbilly. That’s not in the narrative though. Free speech has limits.
Just as reports from Syria and Afghanistan, Palestine and North Korea, Iran and Mali are not simply stories of ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’, ‘terrorist insurgents’ and ‘democracy activists.’ Just as Leveson wasn’t about Hugh Grant’s private life but the revolting bullying of defenceless victims and their families, the deliberate failure to investigate crimes if it lead to top names. Thank God for Wikileaks in this age of embedded Newspeak.
When you have to watch Russia Today or Al Jazeera to get a balanced view of international or even UK news, it’s a telling indictment of the existing state of the British media. Ofcourse there are still some fine investigative journalists uncovering all manner of hypocrisy and corruption and newspapers who are prepared to put resources behind them. Yet more and more, our newspapers have become little more than PR advertorials with commentary and analysis instead of real journalism. The whole process of newsgathering and reporting has become a reflection not of real life as experienced by millions of ordinary citizens but the distorted image of the media itself.
A voluntary Royal Charter of self-regulation for the press sums up just how timid our politicians have become and how terrified of the press they still are.
Carol Voderman has fell down the stairs and broken her nose 6music news
Much as I despise the BBC, when it comes to the big news events, there’s no doubt that ‘Aunty’ (as only BBC executives call ‘her’) is the place to watch moments of global importance or even this charade. There was only one story in town as the Murdochs faced those terrifying Torquemada’s of the British political elite. Like millions of others I had been seduced into thinking that the ‘grilling’ of Rupert and his mini-me son was an event of such magnitude that I would have to stream it via my work’s PC in order to keep abreast of the shenanigans taking place in the House of Commons. I tuned in just as Sir Paul Stephenson was finishing his evidence. The former Met commissioner seemed a decent enough chap and realised that his force’s dismal repsonse to the original News of The World hacking scandal ultimately lead to his door and he had therefore resigned. The fercocious MPs on the select committee, selected presumably for their tenacity and forensic abilities, patted Sir Paul on the head and wished him luck in his new home. Good doggy! They then turned their attention to John Yates, a man far more culpable in this story of bribery, nepotism, backhanders and murder (let’s not forget the Milly Dowler case that turned this whole case) and aimed a few gentle kicks in his direction but basically allowed the assistant commissioner to piss on the carpet and run away.
Then it was onto the real show; Rupert and James Murdoch who staged a bizarre double act routine; Daddy M cracking on to be a befuddled, octogenarian alzeimer’s case and his son attempting to bore the watching millions senseless with meaningless corporate speak. Even the custard pie incident was an anti-climax, notable only for the uselessness of the attacker and the lightning fast reactions of Murdoch’s Mail Order bride, Wendi who lamped the attacker with a slap David Haye could only dream of landing. She instantly became the media’s darling even though she is, in essence, little more than the concubine of a dirty but extremely rich old man. I actually missed the foam/custard incident because after 20 minutes or so of Rupert’s ‘me no understand’ subterfuge and James’ ‘ah weren’t there’ evasions, it seemed pointless to watch the likes of genteel Tom Watson and the imperious Keith Vaz performing their Monty Python Spanish Inquisition routine;
“Tom, poke them with soft cushions!”
“Keith, get the comfy chair!”
And so, after all the hoo-ha what have we learned from the whole fiasco? Er, the British elite has been exposed as an incestuous and corrupt cartel that engages in criminal acts and attempts to cover these up by using the police and politicians to deflect attention away from their crimes. Y’don’t say! We knew that already. Remember the 96?
Whilst the death of some soap characters such as Jack Duckworth only makes me laugh, last night’s episode of Emmerdale had me in tears and I’m not ashamed to admit that the death of tetraplegic, Jackson was one of the most moving scenes I’ve ever seen in any soap over the past 30 years. Far from being just another sensationalist ‘taboo topic’ that most soaps churn out in a bid for ratings, the euthanasia issue has been handled by Emmerdale producers with great sensitivity and restraint. Much of the credit for this must go to the actors ofcourse, Marc Silcock as Jackson, Danny Miller as his boyfriend, Aaron and Pauline Quirk as mother, Hazel. Yes, that’s right; Pauline Quirk! No longer the ‘former Birds Of A Feather’ funny girl, Pauline Quirk’ but perhaps ‘Emmy Winning Actress Pauline Quirk’ because her recent performances have been a revelation.
For those of you unfamiliar with life on the farm, the old days of sheep dip spillages and Amos Brierley are long gone. No, Emmerdale is set firmly in the 21st century with only a few characters actually decked out in Barbours and wellies. I’ve only been a regular viewer for a few years myself but have been impressed by the way in which they have tackled two storylines in particular; Aaron’s homosexuality and Jackson’s ‘assisted suicide.’ They also have their fair share of ludicrous love triangles, serial killers, oversexed teens and gossiping fogeys and to a large extent the tone and content of Emmerdale is as unrealistic and contrived as any other soap. However, like Eastenders and unlike Corry, it has a handful of supremely gifted actors who, when given the right material, can transform the programme from Harold Steptoe to Harold Pinter.
The brooding Danny Miller is one of these and it was his struggle with his sexuality that proved a refreshing alternative to the usual soap storylines. Aaron is after all, a Dingle, the village’s ASBO family and so unable to cope with the consequences of coming out, Aaaron lashed out at those who loved him. Miller’s performance was a finely tuned picture of macho denial mixed with suicidal despair and the producers and writers gave the much needed element of time to develop the plot over a long period rather than go for the easy resolutions or tragedies of the soap format. It was Aaron’s tense relationship with Jackson and his own unresolved anger that resulted in Jackson’s terrible injuries and once again, the Emmerdale producers have allowed Jackson’s despair to develop over many months allowing Quirk and Miller to struggle believably with the desire of a loved one to end their life.
Silcock’s performance has also been magnificent throughout, a masterclass in unshowy emotion. Unable to move any part of his body apart from his head, most of the acting has been done with his eyes and his final scene was virtually unwatchable, such was the sheer emotion of these make-believe lives. Yes, we know it’s a fiction, we understand that Silcock isn’t really a tetraplegic and Pauline Quirk isn’t really his mum, but the question ‘what would I do under the same circumstances?’ distanced it by a million miles from the recent John Stape murder story on Corry or the baby swap plot in EastEnders.
Emmerdale’s reinvention has its downsides. The opening sequence now features a top of the range Range Rover driving along country lanes as a montage of various tableaux moves across the screen; a female foot rubbing a male leg under a Woolpack pub table for example. They have a modern new typeface and some very sexy young actresses who wouldn’t be out of place in Hollyoaks but when all’s said and done, they’re still sponsored by Tombola on-line bingo. The advertisers know who the demogrpahic is and it sure aint Harrogate toffs but the very kind of Doncaster doggers who appear in the Tombola ‘seaside trip’ trailers; cheesysocksniffer and chums!
Still, for all its daft storylines, there’s always something to redeem it and the downs syndrome baby soryline is sure to develop into another well paced and moving study in parenthood and prejudice. Even Paddy The Vet is being allowed to act, really act, for once and more than any other ‘popular drama’ on tv these days, Emmerdale can be trusted not to sensationlise or trivialise a plot as potentially contentious as this.