On Sunday night if you’d listened really carefully you would have heard a collective sigh as everyone settled into their sofa for the new seasons of both Spooks and Downton Abbey (DA). Aside, from the furore about the scheduling (use iplayer or watch Spooks then ITV+1). When there’s a chill in the air and there’s finally something you want to watch on telly it’s a sure sign that autumn is finally here. Hurrah – time to cosy up.
Satisfied though I may have been in my blissful little Sunday night bubble, others were clearly not so impressed, in History Today DA was criticised for a ‘cosy’ view of the period, saying it remained to be seen if the series had anything profound to say about the past (and I paraphrase here). I like cosy, what’s wrong with that. In The Independent it was the turn of Spooks. Apparently full of inaccuracies – I have no idea what the procedures would be in real life, but hello, have they seen a Bond film lately? The point I’m trying to make is that this is entertainment, not a documentary. It is escapist, enjoyable fodder, with love and drama thrown into a gripping story which keeps us rapt week after week, so what if Le Carre has the hump.
Last night, in stark contrast (for me anyway), I inadvertently watched the beginning of the second series of the reality show, Made in Chelsea (MIC), the posher (though no more refined) cousin of The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE). The premis of the show is that it follows the lives (and seemingly loves) of a group of twentysomethings who live in Chelsea . The added twist of this series, as in TOWIE, is that the producers ‘suggest’ things that they would like to happen, so although this is ‘reality’, it isn’t. You could almost see them turning to the camera to be get their cue. Basically it’s making boring people’s lives even more boring. Then televising it. This is entertainment? Wow.
I have never watched a more vacuous and insipid bunch of characters. It’s not the perception of privilege that is grating – if they can afford a Ferrari good on them, it’s just that I don’t give a toss about it , and I should. They all take themselves so seriously that any likeability is quickly stripped away.
When Arabella confronted Ollie (it took how long before people realised he was bisexual? Really?) , when she couldn’t find her Tiffany bracelet and they had ‘words’ about his behaviour I felt it was completely devoid of emotion. Dead behind the eyes. When Francis Boulle looked out on the faces of dozen of his ‘fans’and stated that he was looking at future of entrepreneurs, I physically shuddered.
One of the first rules of a good story is that you should care about the characters and what happens to them. Nils points all round. I’m afraid Jamie’s choice of Ferrari, left me unmoved and when Ollie did have the grace to look embarrassed, whether this was over the bracelet, his wooden ‘acting’. Or perhaps the extraordinarily odd ‘necklace’ that he had chosen to wear (if not producers shame on you – you meanies!). I polite way would be to describe it a ‘collar’. He looked like a female extra from Cleopatra.
Give me Downton Abbey or Spooks any day over this so-called reality.