After a promising ‘anything goes’ start that had been the most fruitful flowering on the fascinating post-punk landscape, the soundtrack of the 1980s eventually homogenised into an insufferably bland template that sadly remains the lazy go-to summary of the decade when it comes to second-hand nostalgia. What this invariably tends to do is obscure the variety of individual voices on offer, voices that became all the more invaluable as the 1980s descended into a mainstream maelstrom of big hair, big shoulder pads, and Big Fun.

David Sylvian, Billy Mackenzie, Julian Cope, Marc Almond – all had at one time been ‘Smash Hits’ cover stars, yet by the middle of the decade they had drifted away from the spotlight to follow their own idiosyncratic paths, happy to take commercial success if it came but not desperate enough to chase it at the expense of their appetite for adventure. In a way, their journeys echoed those of similarly-minded mavericks of the previous decade such as Roy Harper, Richard Thompson, John Martyn and Peter Hammill. And one could add a band to the 80s inheritors of that admirable mantle, Talk Talk.

When Talk Talk first hit the Top 20 in the autumn of 1982 with ‘Today’, they appeared very much in the mould of the moment. Sharing a label and a producer with Duran Duran, the band led by Mark Hollis also supported the Brummie pin-ups on tour in 1981, and the promo for ‘Today’ features all the ‘Nice Video, Shame About the Song’ clichés characteristic of the era. It seemed Talk Talk were merely the latest in an increasingly long line of poster-boys for the New Pop look and sound, ticking all the requisite boxes.

For those of us not paying attention when the band failed to deliver a string of big hit singles thereafter, it came as something of a surprise to see them re-emerge in startlingly different fashion during the drab uniformity of the immediate post-Live Aid period. Gone were the synth-pop trimmings and airbrushed cheekbones of 1982, replaced by something far more interesting. The first public outing of this change – at least in the band’s homeland; other territories had been more receptive – was the 1986 single, ‘Life’s What You Make It’, arguably one of the greatest hits of the entire decade and a track that manages the unique feat for a mid-80s recording in sounding just as fresh today as it did at the time.

‘Life’s What You Make It’ was a trailer for the album ‘The Colour of Spring’, an organic soundscape at odds with the synthetic tapestry of mid-80s music and evidence that here was a band determined to do their own thing when corporate compromise was the order of the day. Critically acclaimed and (crucially) commercially successful, ‘The Colour of Spring’ gave Talk Talk the confidence to stretch their artistic wings even further. The result was 1988’s ‘Spirit of Eden’, now rightly recognised as one of the decade’s most significant and original masterpieces, yet its obstinate rejection of commercial considerations so panicked the band’s label EMI at the time that it provoked a protracted court case as the band sought to escape their contract and any obligations to the record-buying masses.

Signing to Polydor’s jazz offshoot Verve, Talk Talk then had to endure a familiar tactic from an ex-record label as EMI released a compilation album as soon as they’d gone; ironically, 1990’s ‘Natural History’ went on to become the band’s most successful LP in the UK, hitting the top three and prompting the re-release of ‘It’s My Life’, which became Talk Talk’s biggest British hit single. Whilst this belated celebration of the band’s recent past was going on, Talk Talk were busy delving into more minimalist waters, resulting in the release of their final recording, 1991’s ‘Laughing Stock’. Refusal to return to the touring circuit or promote their output on television meant the album largely passed the public by, though the final two Talk Talk LPs are now hailed as important signposts en route to the so-called ‘post-rock’ of Radiohead and others. Despite this, the band – by the end reduced to an effective duo – split shortly after the release of ‘Laughing Stock’; they remained true to their spirit by never succumbing to reunion-itis.

The band’s leader and creative driving force Mark Hollis released an eponymous and solitary solo album in 1998, one that drew upon his passion for the sparse classical music and avant-garde jazz of the 50s and 60s, and then he largely withdrew from music altogether, citing the old MP reasons of ‘spending time with his family’ as he disappeared off the radar. Even when his influence was acknowledged by the next generation, such as his contribution to the 1998 Unkle album, ‘Psyence Fiction’, Hollis preferred to have his name removed from the credits. In an age in which overexposure is a virtue, Hollis’s aversion to the spotlight seems incredibly refreshing, though the surprise announcement of his death at the age of 64 with only the ‘after a short illness’ explanation of his unfairly young demise seems characteristically obscure for a man who had long since come to the conclusion that the celebrity circus was not for him.

Now that the once all-powerful rule of the record companies has been laudably diminished by the rise of DIY bedroom recordings distributed by social media word-of-mouth, the likes of Mark Hollis and his aforementioned contemporaries and predecessors seem like prophets. Yes, the insidious corporate umbrella of UMG may well continue to churn out interchangeable and identikit fast-food marionettes for the kids, but the true artists survive on the periphery, as they always have and hopefully always will. Mark Hollis was one of them and his passing deserves to be marked.

© The Editor


I guess they really do believe we’re stupid. True, if one were to gauge the IQ of the masses by, say, monitoring click-bait and being unsurprisingly struck by the insensible numbers who find half-naked synth-faced freaks on red carpets inexplicably interesting, it’d be hard not to come away concluding that we are stupid. But the powers-that-be couldn’t regard us as less retarded than they already do even if each and every one of us signed-up to worship at the altar of the Kardashians.

Jeremy Corbyn has indicated it will now be official Labour Party policy to back an amendment for a second EU Referendum if MPs vote down its plans for an alternative to Theresa May’s dead Brexit duck. This uncannily timely move, following a week in which nine MPs left the party – eight of them lining up alongside a trio of renegade Tories – is a blatantly opportunistic tactic when Brexit was the driving force that spawned the Independent Group and Corbyn badly needs to shift the spotlight away from anti-Semitism accusations. Desperate to stem the haemorrhaging of more MPs, Jezza – or those pulling his strings – has belatedly nailed his colours to the Remoaner mast, appeasing the dominant Remain faction that has yet to quit the party and sticking two fingers up at the sizeable amount of Labour constituencies that voted Leave. Emily (Lady Nugee) Thornberry could barely contain her excitement, though we already know what she thinks of the plebs anyway.

Having apparently abandoned tiresome demands for a General Election it still probably wouldn’t win, Labour is now hedging its bets on the Second Referendum factor as a means of improving its pitiful position in the polls. It’s probably not a wild, unrealistic assumption that most of the fresh recruits to the party who (so we were told) joined in their millions during the height of Jezza-mania a couple of years ago are in favour of a Second Referendum; these are no doubt the Bright Young Things that Polly Toynbee hopes will slip cyanide into the cocoa of the demented elderly racists and xenophobes who voted Leave. In the same way that the leading three sci-fi franchises – ‘Star Trek’, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Doctor Who’ – have alienated their loyal hardcore audiences to chase the Woke vote, with Labour it now seems to be a case of sod the constituents that have supported the party through many a lean decade.

Just as well things aren’t as bad on the blue side of the Commons, eh? Er…well, with Theresa May’s endless fruitless trips to Brussels making her look more and more like a rejected suitor who still insists on serenading the object of her affection even when that object has repeatedly told her to f*** off, the Cabinet is once more doing whatever the hell it likes while the cat’s away. When it comes to exercising effective authority, the Prime Minister is akin to a supply teacher fresh out of training college, thrown in at the deep end with a classroom full of surly Easter-leavers exploiting her timidity; it would appear the suspension of collective responsibility that Cameron introduced for the EU Referendum in 2016 has now become standard practice.

In the wake of the three amigos’ defection, half-a-dozen members of the Cabinet have flexed their muscles and delivered yet another raspberry in the direction of May’s ‘authority’, threatening mass resignations if the Prime Minister doesn’t extend the Article 50 deadline and rule out No Deal. Has there ever been a PM with such a staggering lack of control over her own Ministers? For those of us who can recall the clout that Blair or Thatcher wielded, it really is a remarkable situation to witness. Of course, with May having declared she won’t fight the next General Election as Conservative Party leader, there’s clearly jostling for future leadership going on, though one suspects there’s something a little more personal in Amber Rudd’s contribution. Maybe it still rankles that she lost her job and carried the can for the Windrush scandal when most of the damage had been done by her predecessor at the Home Office – though Rudd would do well to remember she retained her seat at Hastings and Rye by a mere 346 votes in 2017, making the foundations upon which to build a bid for No.10 decidedly shaky.

Corbyn’s Second Referendum announcement, the Remainer revolt in the Cabinet, and the Independent Group – all symptoms of the same thing that has been going on at Westminster for the past two-and-a-half years; and the reason this issue is still dragging its rotting carcass across the front page of everyone’s lives in 2019 – indeed the reason Parliament has made such a God-awful bloody mess of the whole issue – appears obvious. Parliament on the whole does not want what the majority of British people voted for and is determined to prevent it from happening. If it achieves this aim, God knows what will happen the next time the electorate has an opportunity to intervene; it would be extremely unwise for our elected representatives to imagine their actions will not have serious repercussions both for them and for the widening fault-lines running through society.

As stated in a previous post, I voted Remain in 2016 and have subsequently altered my opinion on the subject solely as a consequence of my disgust with the blatant disregard of democracy that has been taking place at Westminster ever since. Most of the prominent MPs who retained their seats at the last General Election were elected on the basis they would honour, respect and (if in government) implement the Referendum result. They did so to a man and – surprise, surprise – they lied. Their real intention seems to have been to prevent Brexit from happening, and they’re more determined than ever to do so as we edge closer to D-Day. It’s no use now claiming that a Second Referendum is the only solution to breaking the deadlock. Why is there a deadlock? Because they have engineered it in order to bring about their hoped-for solution.

You can’t always get what you want, as someone once said. I might have preferred the UK to remain in the EU in 2016, but I accepted the result, as one does – or should do. The people that voted Leave are not to blame for the current crisis; MPs are. And, like the teenager whose response to a parental edict to tidy their bedroom is to keep repeating ‘I’ll do it in a minute’ in the hope they won’t have to, MPs seem to believe if they delay the process indefinitely the public will get so sick of the whole business that they’ll eventually stop caring and will accept the betrayal with a resigned shrug of the shoulders. At this rate, the whole sorry saga seems set to make Jarndyce v Jarndyce resemble the career duration of an X-Factor winner.

© The Editor


As tribute acts go, I’ve probably seen worse, though it’s hard to think where off the top of my head. Let’s compare: Roy Jenkins – twice Home Secretary, once Chancellor of the Exchequer, a man on whose watch homosexuality was decriminalised, abortion was legalised, capital punishment was abolished and archaic divorce laws were reformed; Chuka Umunna – Shadow Business Secretary…and…er…well, that’s it. And yet, at the press conference held to announce the resignation of seven Labour MPs this morning, Umunna did his best to remix the speech Jenkins made at the launch of the SDP in 1981 so that it could become a defining signpost along his own path of vainglory.

When a mere four ‘moderate’ MPs staged a similar split from a Labour party that had been seized by the hard left thirty-eight years ago, the quartet consisted of the aforementioned Jenkins as well as a former Foreign Secretary (David Owen), a former Education Secretary (Shirley Williams), and a former Transport Secretary (Bill Rodgers). Rodgers was perhaps the only member of the quartet whose public service didn’t quite resonate with the heavyweight cache of his partners, though seeing today’s events on TV made me think of legendary US rock critic Lester Bang’s response to the question, ‘Are Slade the new Beatles?’ – to which he had replied, ‘Sure; they’re all Ringo.’ What we witnessed today was seven Ringos who hadn’t even formulated the concept of an actual political party, merely a ‘group’. The Gang of Seven, perhaps.

Various reasons were served-up as motives for the split, varying from individual to individual. The case of Luciana Berger (Liverpool Wavertree) seemed the most understandable, subject as she has been over the past five years to unpleasant anti-Semitic abuse that the leadership of the Labour Party appears either incapable – or unwilling – to get an effective grip on. Her resignation was perhaps the most anticipated and probably would have happened with or without the simultaneous walk-out of six fellow Labour MPs. But while dissatisfaction with the direction of the party has been brewing amongst those who graduated from the Blair academy ever since Corbyn took control in 2015, the shadow of Brexit hangs over the whole affair like the ‘I’d give it ten minutes if I were you’ post-toilet warning of an unwelcome houseguest.

Three or four Tory MPs are currently facing threats of de-selection thanks to their Brexit stance and it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to picture them joining their ideological cohorts who have just exited Labour; and, somewhat predictably, the Mr Barrowclough of British politics, Vince ‘I sold the Royal Mail’ Cable has offered the hand of friendship to the ‘Independent Group’, echoing as they seem to do his own perspective on Brexit. Whether or not this means all three strands will coalesce into a new third party remains to be seen, but – a bit like Jacob Rees-Mogg’s melodramatic misfire re Theresa May’s leadership last year – the timing of this decision could well prove to be somewhat ill.

One of the criticisms levelled at Jenkins & co in 1981 was that they should have remained in the Labour Party and engaged in a battle that could have seen them eventually wrestle control from Foot and Benn; their exit was viewed in some quarters as a cowardly cop-out, being all-too aware that the structure of the British political system meant their Social Democratic experiment was destined to ensure a further two Election successes for Mrs Thatcher. The last time a third party was able to command more than 100 seats in Parliament was way back in 1923, and since then the role of a third party has essentially been to prop up the winners, most notably in 2010. At the moment, this Independent Group haven’t even got to the stage where they can call themselves a party, which makes their little collective more reminiscent of an even older Parliamentary model, one that stretches all the way back to the eighteenth century, when Whigs and Tories were ideological groupings at Westminster rather than organised political parties as we would recognise them today.

It’s hard not to be cynical towards the motives of Umunna in particular. He quickly threw his hat in the ring following Ed Miliband’s resignation as Labour leader after the 2015 General Election defeat and withdrew it just as quickly, suggesting he lacked the bottle to push himself forward as a potential Prime Minister when he belatedly realised the level of scrutiny he’d be subjected to. Since his hissy-fit departure from the frontbench in the wake of Corbyn’s 2015 election as Labour leader, his evident irritation with being shoved to the margins of Labour has rankled with his ego, something that’s been on constant display during his regular television appearances over the last couple of years. He’s also had to stand back and watch his own elitist outlook take battering after battering across the Continent, yet his denial over precisely how out of touch he is with the prevailing European trend echoes his guru Tony’s equally deluded sermons on the subject of Brexit. The world has moved on, but these people simply will not accept they are now standing on the wrong side of history.

Along with his kindred spirit in the blue half of the Commons, Anna Soubry, Chuka Umunna has been prominent in doing his utmost to block Brexit progress, emerging as one of the leading cheerleaders of the ‘You plebs didn’t understand what you were voting for’ mindset. In Chuka’s world, the Third Way approach that worked in the 90s is still relevant, whereas most of the electorate see it as meaningless an approach to today’s problems as the Gold Standard or any other archaic political foundation stone upon which to build a system of governance. Few are arguing that a satisfactory successor has taken hold of this century; so far, there seem to be a series of competing ideologies, all of which are fighting to make themselves heard without any emerging as a distinct frontrunner. Such a climate is commonplace in the prelude to war, though that’s hardly a comforting thought.

All seven members of the Independent Group have fairly secure majorities from the last General Election, so it’s no wonder they’re reluctant to call on their constituents to endorse their walk-out via a series of potentially fascinating by-elections. Many hail from Leave constituencies, which (considering their shared stance on Brexit) is no doubt another factor in hesitating to put it to the people – unless it’s a second Referendum, of course; that’s different. Oh, well. We’ll see what happens in the days and weeks to come. At least if they’ve achieved anything, they’ve prompted me back into action; and that’s an achievement in itself.

© The Editor


Well, it’s been a week in which old gags we don’t often get the opportunity to revive much these days suddenly seemed relevant again. Considering the subject of the economy is rarely far from the headlines as the countdown to you-know-what continues apace, it’s been good to declare for the first time since the heyday of Sid James ogling Barbara Windsor, ‘You don’t get many of those to the pound.’ Yes, Rachel Johnson got her pixellated tits out for the lads! Whoops – sorry, what I meant to say was…Rachel Johnson staged an empowering feminist gesture on behalf of a political cause.

In other words, a woman whose fame is largely due to the gene pool she shares exposed her breasts on television – and doing so in no way trivialised the issue at hand or gave the impression the most radical protest a woman can make is to submit to something we’ve been repeatedly told is symbolic of patriarchal oppression. Heaven forbid! Of course, who can forget Emily Davison’s courageous flashing of her bloomers at the 1913 Derby? No, Boris’s sister made a valid point, unlike those dim slags who used to pose on page 3 of the Sun or those exploited victims of the white male gaze who used to congregate on platforms at the climax of a Formula One race. Phew! Glad we’ve cleared that one up.

Ms Johnson’s stunt follows hot on the heels of Dr Victoria Bateman’s highly-publicised ‘political striptease’, something that inevitably evoked memories of a similarly silly Monty Python sketch in which Terry Jones plays the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs delivering a dull speech in the manner of an old-school stripper. Yes, folks – that’s where we’ve got to, when Python sketches satirising the monotony of mainstream politics are actually overtaken by the real thing fifty years on. If one can overlook the rather frightening fact that such a narcissistic fruitcake can hold a lecturer’s position at one of the country’s most prestigious universities, Bateman’s publicity-seeking desperation perhaps highlights just how low Remoaners are now prepared to go.

Dr Bateman does have previous when it comes to using her body as a sandwich board for her opinions, however, especially in a Brexit context. She first stripped-off for the cause at a Cambridge University Faculty of Economics meeting in 2016 and first bore all on video for the benefit of social media just last summer – both of which were warm-ups for her streak across the media this past month or so. At least the 70s nudist joggers celebrated in song by Ray Stevens had no pretensions to hackneyed political activism. Don’t look, Ethel!

From my experience of friends who have had children, I’m aware toddlers have a habit of ‘throwing a paddy’ when denied something they desire and are also prone to randomly taking their clothes off at given intervals (something that can prove somewhat awkward in public situations). We expect such behaviour from small children; they don’t know any better because they haven’t been trained in social skills. When adults adopt the same tactics whilst pursuing a political point they both diminish their credibility and utterly devalue their argument. Moreover, a generation of women who have fought to be taken seriously for what they can do rather than being judged on their looks or their bodies are faced with the depressing sight of headlines again being grabbed by a pair of tits – or two.

As an analogy, the whole Emperor’s New Clothes concept was already a tired old cliché when it was used as the climax to the ludicrously overrated Robert Altman’s turgid satire of the 90s fashion business, ‘Prêt-á-Porter’. Dr Bateman’s counterproductive exhibitionism has been rightly received with the hilarity it deserves, her rambling logic lost in the sniggers greeting her (over) exposure. Her infantile simplicity when it comes to a complex subject – basically, EU Good/Brexit Bad – does nothing to win any converts either. Yes, she is a mere sideshow to a far more serious ideological battle; but the fact she is prepared to get her kit off for a cause that has been marked by foot-stamping petulance from day one again provokes comparisons with toddler tantrums. Perhaps the only fresh air that can be inhaled from Dr Bateman’s stale striptease is that it’s nice to see pubes back on the naked female form in this hairless age. And that just about says it all.

From the nastiness of Polly Toynbee actively advocating the imminent demise of the over-50s who voted Leave to the pointlessness of Johnson and Bateman all-but burning their bras, the straw-clutching tactics of those who refuse to accept the will of the majority are becoming increasingly insane as attempts to prevent or reverse the inevitable are floundering. Their Parliamentary allies are still hard at it, however – either threatening yet again to form a breakaway centrist party happy to lick the jackboots of Brussels or inventing endless amendments seemingly written on the back of a beermat to serve as further minor spanners in the works. Even the PM can’t be bothered hanging around to hear the latest defeat being declared now, preferring to stick her fingers in her ears at home. Aren’t we all.

Okay, I know I’m not the first to adopt this premise, but if we can imagine the result of the 2016 Referendum had been won by the other side, does anybody seriously believe the issue would still be dragging on day-after-day two-and-a-half years later as the dominant headline at the expense of all the other pressing issues facing the nation? And would Jacob Rees-Mogg be whipping off his Union Jack Y-fronts on television and inviting Brexiteers to write slogans of support on his honourable member? Mercifully, no. It’s time to put your clothes back on and grow-up, Remoaners.

© The Editor


Swivel-eyed get – what a wonderfully vivid description of an interfering busybody. It gate-crashed the national lexicon when Arthur Seaton was confronted by the actions of ‘Old Ma Bull’, a characteristic battleaxe familiar to anyone who had grown-up in an immediate post-war working-class community, the kind that would shortly be given iconic properties courtesy of ‘Coronation Street’, whereby Old Ma Bull would be remade and remodelled as Ena Sharples. The 1960 movie of Alan Sillitoe’s ‘kitchen-sink’ novel, ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ laid the ground for Tony Warren’s transfer of the Angry Young Man’s oeuvre from silver to small screen at the end of that year; but Albert Finney’s interpretation of the book’s lead character has remained a British cinematic touchstone that every anti-hero has followed ever since, even when the actors taking their cue from Finney’s pioneering lead don’t necessarily recognise the taste of the chip on the character’s shoulder.

Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay, Terence Stamp, Michael Caine – actors whose grammar school backgrounds were no impediment to achievement at a unique moment in recent British history, when social mobility was a reality rather than a theory undone by successive government cuts to the Arts in the state sector. The death at the age of 82 of the first of those landmark thespians to break the mould has served to remind us all that it was once possible to rise from the provinces and reach for the stars bereft of nepotism or economic privilege. Despite the fact that this quartet went on to play a wide variety of roles, the seismic impact they made when kicking down the drawing-room doors at the dawn of a decade that briefly redrew the map of possibilities is something all four will forever be associated with.

However, one only has to look at the legacy of ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ via the small screen to realise its groundbreaking authenticity has been diluted and all-but obliterated. Today’s television demands have transformed Tony Warren’s depiction of Salford from a twice-weekly account of events the audience could relate to into a nightly penny-dreadful document of fantastical melodrama whereby sieges, shootings, murders, abortions, rapes, drug and sexual abuse, fires and explosions are the norm, and where infidelity is apparently compulsory. Taking its sensationalistic cue from the likes of ‘Eastenders’, ‘Emmerdale’ and ‘Hollyoaks’, the 2019 landscape of Weatherfield makes Syria seem a preferable destination.

One could say this week’s unsurprising (if appalling) statistics on knife-crime have perhaps demonstrated urban society today is a good deal more dangerous than the one Arthur Seaton swaggered his way through on a Saturday night in 1960; and I would imagine the producers and writers of ‘Coronation Street’ justify their gory stories by claiming they are merely reflecting that danger via the heightened, exaggerated reality of drama. At the same time, such tactics don’t so much exaggerate as distort reality, as though the writers scan the worst headlines and then shoehorn them into the script, giving viewers the impression that society is even more violent than it actually is. Pulp novelist Richard Allen sourced his cult series of 70s books on teenage tribes in much the same way.

The criticism of ‘Coronation Street’ used to be that it was trapped in a nostalgic time-warp, portraying a cosy cobblestone community that had long since vanished beneath the tower-block; the only remnant of this viewpoint in today’s version is the fact that every character in a job has a workplace no more than a dozen paces from their front door. Otherwise, cosy certainly isn’t a word that can be applied to ‘Coronation Street’ in 2019; a solitary street in which virtually every depressing social issue afflicting the nation can be found in action is hardly cosy, though it’s not exactly reality either. And one major casualty of this approach is the crucial element of ‘Coronation Street’ that served to elevate it above the competition for decades, its humour.

Past writers understood the formula that had made the show so successful; Weatherfield was a place where tragedy and comedy sat cheek-by-jowl, as they do in the real world. Yes, there were plenty of dramatic events on ‘Coronation Street’ during its first half-century, but there was equally just as much witty writing, characterisation and dialogue worthy of the finest sitcom. This was once a balance that worked well, though perhaps having to stretch storylines so thinly across so many episodes a week has now resulted in a desperate increase of the shock-horror plots at the expense of Stan & Hilda-type hi-jinks, something clueless TV executives deem vital in a ratings battle that has actually never been more irrelevant. If ‘Coronation Street’ remains a mirror on society, anyone looking through that mirror can only come to the conclusion that society is f****d.

If the streets of terraced houses surrounding the old Raleigh factory in Nottingham that Arthur Seaton knew as home hadn’t already been wiped from the map, would they too have descended into the same moral cesspit at their Salford contemporary sixty years on? Probably. Whereas the kitchen-sink heroes – Seaton, Billy Liar, Jimmy Porter et al – railed against the iniquities of their uninspired inheritance and fought tooth-and-claw to climb their way out, the way in which their grandchildren are depicted for dramatic purposes lacks the one key ingredient that made those early 60s movies so invigorating and uplifting – hope.

One could argue the decline of social mobility means hope is in short supply as it is, so surely drama should reflect that when turning its focus on those at the bottom of the heap. Unfortunately, by doing so it has the habit of making any relatively rare drama set in a working-class community either on TV or at the cinema a pretty despondent experience. Even whenever a non-Estuary English accent is aired on the likes of ‘Woman’s Hour’ today, the listener knows the subject under discussion is bound to be gangs or drugs or sexual abuse or sex trafficking coz that’s what them working-classes do, innit.

Finney has died at 82, Courtenay will be the same age at the end of this month; Stamp is 80; Caine is 85. These guys are either gone or getting very old indeed, and we won’t see their likes again because the system that enabled them to succeed isn’t there anymore. That’s why we’re inundated with Cumberbatch’s, Lewis’s and West’s; that’s not a criticism of Benedict, Damien or Dominic as actors, but they all had advantages that gave them a head start. A kid without those advantages, a kid in possession of a talent with the potential to flower into that of a Finney or a Courtenay, will have doors barred to him as a result and we’ll be denied that talent. We could consequently return to the time before Arthur Seaton, whereby ex-public schoolboys will effectively ‘black-up’ to play working-class characters, and actors with more authentic origins will be reduced to comedy cockneys or daft northerners. And then the bastards will have ground us down after all.

© The Editor