Fiction is tailor-made for immediate post-watershed Sunday evenings; it draws in the audiences as mainstream television has a welcome armistice from endless talent contests of both the celebrity and non-celebrity varieties, providing viewers with one final distraction from imminent Monday morning blues as the weekend grinds to a halt. Period dramas appear especially suited to the Sunday evening environment, offering an additionally exotic slice of escapism from the humdrum; and running against one another at the moment are two classic examples, BBC1’s remake of ‘Poldark’ and ITV’s ‘Victoria’ (which primarily focuses on the early life of the spirited young queen).
Let’s face it – few eras of British history are as gloriously detached from contemporary reality as the Regency. This was a time when men were men – or men that were dashing, duelling bastard bucks in tricorn hats, capes and knee-breeches; and women were damsels in distress, heaving bosoms encased by bodices and all. Try to apply killjoy modern mores to the era and you can understand why it’s more alluring and attractive than ever in such a restrictive, litigious Dark Age of thought-crime.
It is a familiar pattern than an eruption of licentious free-for-all hedonism follows each era of repressive Puritanism; that a Twitter account celebrating the historic whores of Olde England should be temporarily suspended due to its profile picture depicting Charles II’s most famous mistress Nell Gwyn with exposed nipples suggests we are back in the latter era. Now restored due to some delicate airbrushing around Nell’s nipples, the fact that said picture hangs in the National Portrait Gallery for all to see without any age restrictions emphasises the ludicrous nature of online censorship. I have accidentally come across images of severed heads courtesy of your friendly neighbourhood ISIS decapitator, butchered victims of Charles Manson’s murderous cult, and shots of Pol Pot’s torture chambers when still fully functioning – none of which I sought out; I would hazard a guess most would rather look at the nipples of a woman who died over 300 years ago, but one is obviously more offensive than the other.
Yet, if the evidence points to us all residing in a century of puritanical censorship that would have Cromwell giving the thumbs up from six feet under, how does that explain the gross-out vulgarity of the likes of ‘Geordie Shore’ or naked dating programmes or endless ‘Lads and lasses on the pull in Ibiza’ shows spread across the digital TV network like a particularly pungent STD? How does it explain magazines aimed at teenage girls with info on their front covers offering them advice on how to give the perfect blowjob? How does it explain the sensationalistic and sordid sexual voyeurism screaming from the ‘Take a Break’-type rags? How does it explain the soft-porn soft-sell of female pop stars promoting their wares on MTV? How does it explain ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?
And, all the while, our prisons are increasingly overcrowded due to an influx of inmates found guilty of the same such acts that are today promoted as a design for life, reclassified as ‘historic sex crimes’ on the basis of several mentally-disturbed individuals’ hazy allegations and a corrupt justice system polluted by a political (not say financial) agenda. Ah, but that was then.
Just as the thought of their parents having sex induces a bout of vomiting in teenagers, the notion that past generations had any sort of consensual intimacy in their youth cannot be tolerated; take that onto the next level and it’s possible to punish them for their distant salacious indulgences – whether or not these indulgences took place in the real world or in the post-therapy imagination. In television terms, this is where Sunday evening’s predilection for fiction and modern-day Puritanism meet, as the two mainstream BBC TV channels will compete for our attention tonight by offering up a documentary on the lives of the Cornish gentry during the Napoleonic Wars and an utterly fictitious drama about a dead man posthumously painted as the greatest sexual predator of all time. Sorry, have I got that right?
A couple of years ago, I met some members of the Savile family; at the time, they remained hopeful their side of the story would receive some balanced media coverage. They mentioned the name of Louis Theroux, as the geeky specky had famously spent time on camera with the dead DJ and charity fundraiser during the back-end of his life. He had apparently expressed an interest in following up this documentary and had been in touch with the family. The end result of his endeavours, however, is not being promoted as an alternative point of view; instead it has been marketed as a more sophisticated version of your average Mark Williams Thomas exercise in crass sensationalism. It will clearly not question the consensus; it will toe the narrative line. Did anyone really expect a programme on this subject produced by the BBC to do otherwise?
If BBC DG Tony Hall bends over backwards any further to appease the knockers then he will be forced to talk out of his arse – whoops, it would seem he’s been doing that ever since he got the job. On the day Louis Theroux reaffirms every belief on that cadaverous Paedo that has been set in stone for the last four years, Hall’s Corporation sacks a regular on Radio 4’s ‘Now Show’ because he’s not a non-binary, transgender disabled Asian lesbian – or something equally ‘diverse’.
Personally, I found Jon Holmes annoying, unfunny and characteristic of the kind of lame, faux-satirical excuse for comedy that Radio 4 periodically pedals, another product of the bleedin’ obvious gag factory; but that’s beside the point. He’s evidently been fired because he doesn’t fit the Affirmative Action imposed on the BBC by the same class of metropolitan suit that routinely sneers at the common people who voted Leave.
So, the BBC embarks upon another bout of self-flagellation over a deceased ex-employee and hopes the Daily Mail will go easy on it. The door remains open for a brave soul to discard the narrative and present the facts; step forward, seekers of the truth. Oops, it would seem no mainstream TV channel wants you. Why broadcast an exhaustively-researched viewpoint that contradicts the narrative? Imagine the masses having to consider such a contradiction when the story is now so engrained in the collective (false) memory. No, too much to think about when it’s Monday in the morning. Confirm your prejudices with Louis and go to bed content. I’ll be watching ‘Poldark’. Evenin’ all.
© The Editor