If Leo McKern's character merely dismembered his clients with a chainsaw, or enjoyed anal sex with members of the higher judiciary, no doubt all would be well and our children encouraged to watch. But Rumpole does something on screen more perverse by far; he smokes. He smokes in his room in chambers, he smokes in Pomeroy's Wine Bar, he smokes at breakfast in the Easi-Bite cafe, he smokes in the lobby of the Old Bailey, he smokes in prison visiting rooms and when he returns home at night he smokes in his own home too. On top of which, he drinks an 'unhealthy' amount of poor quality claret. And he has little time for the abstemious puritans with faces like day-old pollock who would have him stop eating meat, stop smoking and drink only elderflower cordial.
But it seems the anti smokists have created something that would have that old socialist rogue John Mortimer chuckling. It's termed 'smoking porn' and apparently features persons not necessarily naked but just smoking. It's something of a growing sexual fetish, appealing to those for whom taboo behaviour takes a sexual dimension. Classifying all films featuring smoking as '18' can only accelerate this tendency.
I'm glad I've got my Rumpole boxed set already; in future, shop staff will no doubt bestow that look of knowing complicity on the shifty little Onanists guiltily handing over Rumpole discs at the counter. And God only knows what unknown lubricity I will induce standing outside the station, cigarette in hand. It really doesn't bear thinking about.