Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Sue Perkins, Catholicism, feminism and Glasgow

After watching the moronic Jedward messing up a kitchen floor in Celeb Big Brother, then a stale repeat called the Great British Bake Off with Sue Bloody Perkins (smugness and irritation personified – and consequently hugely in demand at BBC), I started to think that television really has NOTHING to offer any more. Nothing at all.

Then I remembered Family Guy on BBC3, but that’s too often repeated and is a US import anyway …

Next, along comes The Field of Blood – a crime drama set in Glasgow in 1982. OK, this was not a purely televisual creation. It's an adaptation of a novel, and the novel is, of course, an art form far superior to TV.

Now I like drama, and since reading the three Stieg Larsson novels earlier this year, I do also quite like crime fiction, particularly if there is a lot of psychology, moral philosophy and poetic language in it.

As for The Field of Blood (BBC1 Monday Aug 29), well I liked enough to want to watch the second part.

There is much that I like personally in this drama – not least the sweary, cynical humour of a traditional newspaper newsroom. I worked for many years as a reporter and a feature writer in such places, with their smoking, cussing, piss-taking humour etc. Frankly, I wish those days were back. Instead, news writing (and most other forms of writing) are dumbing down because writing is being de-professionalised as the internet era develops. Also culture generally has become horrible politically correct as the forces of Liberal Fascism have grown in confidence.

I also like The Field of Blood because it has Catholicism as a cultural backdrop. Catholicism is so often scoffed at by the liberal wasters who make 99 per cent of TV drama. But as someone who grew up in a Catholic culture I know how strong it is - and I predict the faith and its dolorous spirituality will make a comeback as times become progressively more testing for Western societies such as our own.

Another reason for this two-parter’s appeal – for me at least – is it’s setting in Glasgow. I like Glasgow. I lived there for a while when I was working as a reporter for a Scottish morning newspaper (the Press & Journal).

The Field of Blood has a feminist agenda. Drama cannot really get commissioned at the BBC these days unless it has a feminist theme, or a homosexual one, or a racial justice one, or an anti-Christian shtick. I’m OK about the feminist subtext of The Field of Blood, as it goes. I’m a supporter of men’s liberation, you see, so I am, of course, also a feminist.

Because if you are serious about making people free, you have to be serious about achieving freedom for both men and women equally.

At the heart of this story is a young woman from a Catholic family, Paddy (Patricia)Meehan. She is working in a newspaper office as a lowly ‘copy boy’ when she notices in a story about the grisly murder of a child a connection to her wider family.

There is a conflict between her passionate and correct belief that sometimes it is only journalists who can expose injustice – and the need of her kith and kin to protect themselves.

Procedurally, there were some weaknesses in The Field of Blood's portrayal of an old-style newsroom, and the casting was wrong, having far too many old and middle aged men in the newsroom. But the culture of such a newsroom was only slightly exaggerated. Overall, it was a fair enough stab, I thought.

This is a drama, after all – not real life.

1 comment:

  1. Can see why you 'used' to be employed as a critic. Proofreading and correct use of punctuation may have been required along with the restraint to abstain from crow-barring personal political prejudices into the review.