I don’t know about you but I’ve got a real soft spot for Silent Witness, the forensics procedural that is now entering its 23rd series. It’s rare for a crime drama to straddle that middle ground between hard-hitting and gritty on the one hand and flabby and unconvincing on the other but SW seems to manage it. It’s quite corny in parts and there’s a lot of telling-people-things-they-ought-to-know-already (for example, last night a HEMS officer asked what diazepam is) but I just blow past it because I enjoy the programme: in fact OH and I have been following it for years.
So what is it about this series that is so appealing? Well, first off is the subject matter. There are a lot of crime and police procedurals but very few forensic ones, and the concept of probing the secrets of the dead is very appealing. Of course as it’s not a gritty drama the corpses aren’t depicted with anything approaching realism but again, we just blow past that because it’s so enjoyable. Like police procedurals the pleasure is in trying to work out the denouement before the characters get there, and the series allows the attentive viewer to twig the outcome just before Nikki and her team.
And that’s the third attraction of this show; the characters. These people are family; there are mother and father-figures (Nikki and Thomas) and squabbling siblings Jack and Clarissa. There’s no hint of sexual attraction between them – any relationships take place outside the team – and while there are tiffs and disagreements, nothing major threatens the coherence of the group.
So much for silent witnesses; less entertaining is what I call the phenomenon of the silent ‘g’. Every time I turn on Steve Wright ‘in the afternoon’ – that’ll be on his gravestone – he seems to be doing a feature called ‘serious jockin’ (no g’). I simply cannot understand the point of this. People text or email saying what they’re up to and add ‘serious’ whatever with no ‘g’ at the end. A typical one might go like this: ‘and here’s Jordan in Scarborough: Dear Steve, we’re heading up to the Lake District this weekend for some sailing. Serious boatin’ – no g.’ Why is this funny? Why do they make such a big deal out of it? OH cannot understand it and neither can I.
It also puts me in mind of the National Theatre of Brent, whose comedy seems to consist in droppin’ the g’s at the end of words.
I’ve never really understood the appeal of the National Theatre of Brent – their comedy seems to consist of dropping the ‘g’s at the end of words, talking in a funny voice and being incompetent – all of which would normally make them Upper-class Twits, except that they’re socialists. So it’s an upper-class twist. LOL.
I am expecting a fairly crap day today. Why? Because I woke up at 4 am and couldn’t get back to sleep. Insomnia sucks, and I have the greatest sympathy for those who suffer from it long-term. It’s horrid. There’s a ceildh tonight which I may go to if I’m still awake – I’m sorry but Irish spelling is mad!!! They have words like ‘mgreagh’ which are pronounced ‘Dave’. It makes no sense at all.
I have finished the Michael Frayn – the second of the highly estimable books I purchased for 10 p each from the librar (sic): it struck me as largely a farce on paper. It was a very entertaining story of someone who tries to pull an art scam and ends up in a sequence of farcical and disastrous events. I skipped a lot of the art-history stuff, though much of it was horrendous: if he’s correct then Phillip II of Spain ordered the mass slaughter of the entire population of the Netherlands for ‘heresy’. Could this be true? It’s in character. It’s also the kind of thing that sends Richard Dawkins into orbit, executing a double-circuit of the earth with half-somersault and pike before splashing down in the Pacific *. Frayn is reassuringly not post-modern: there’s a kind of order underlying the chaos of the farcical situations the character gets himself into, and while the Lord of Misrule will have his day, things get back to normal (‘normalise’ as he keeps saying) at the end of the book. The main character is just about bearable for the self-knowledge and humility he gains and for the terrible and hilarious consequences of his self-seeking actions. In fact I had the sense here that Frayn was trying to write a post-post-modern book and failing. For which failure I salute him – he’s far too good to succeed in such a paltry venture.
Anyone want to borrow this one? It’s called ‘Headlong.’ Not the best title, but still…
I have emailed the Today programme about Simon Jenkins’ disgraceful views on the Levinson enquiry (the interview is near the end of the prog.)
*the Specific Ocean, as Holly used to call it.