You know a BBC TV show is in trouble when they start running plugs for it on R4. So it has been with the biggest broadcasting turkey for many years - the dreadful 'The Hour'. Yes, I watched almost an entire episode and that's 35 minutes I'll never get back. This isn't a TV review blog, but there's a more general point here.
The Indie gets the scriptwriter to admit that 'some lines haven't worked' but it's far worse than that. Neither the writer, the director or the cast seem to have any notion at all of what the 1950s were like. It's not just spoken language that's rubbish, it's body language, deference, social behaviour and crap casting. It's not even as if there isn't evidence about of how people inter-related in the '50s; there's a wealth of British films that portray exactly how women sat, how they stood, how they held themselves during social intercourse. It's uniquely the sheer arrogance and culture of waste at the BBC that could dismiss all this and have a 1950s female character do the equivalent of putting her feet up on the train seats and tuning her Walkman.
I have to put it down to historical ignorance on the part of writer, director and actors rather than wilful stupidity. But how can they have so comprehensively lost any notion of what Britain was like just 50 or 60 years ago? Women didn't fling themselves about because replacement knicker elastic was still scarce. There weren't any deodorants or dry cleaners. Unmarried journalists lived in lodgings, not apartments. The pill hadn't been invented and condoms were washable and reusable. Men had just survived fighting a war and buried sights and memories of unimaginable horror beneath a veneer of formal and correct behaviour. It was cold. Wine was unobtainable and Lard and Spam formed a major part of the diet. Dental care and hygiene were primitive. People sat in front of a one bar electric fire or 'Aladdin' paraffin heater in their overcoats in the evening and read while they listened to the wireless. They wrote letters. If they needed to make a phone call they had to walk down the street and join the queue at the phone box. All of this is missing from a production that's essentially set in the 1990s but played in period costume.
The general point is that we have spawned a generation that simply has no idea whatsover of what living in a time of real austerity is like. By God, they've got a shock coming.