Wednesday, 17 June 2020

A poisoned chalice

I usually love reading articles by Melanie Phillips” is what hundreds of people say before posting a derogatory comment in The Times - apart from the ones who start off with the opposite qualifier and proceed to wholeheartedly agree ‘just this once’ with what she’s written.

Well, this article about the Skripal docudrama sparked off a mixed avalanche of both pro and anti comments. For once I’m leaning slightly towards the former, having watched the concluding instalment last night. 

Melanie’s positive ejaculation was somewhat premature if you can stomach the allusion, as I like to assume she wrote the article before she viewed the third (and perhaps even the second) episode of this strange docu-drama. 

The production did start promisingly, and as it unfolded the story did indeed seem to echo the current  ‘pandemic’ scenario, which was, of course, the aspect of the tale that Melanie was predominantly interested in examining.

However, in true BBC tradition the drama tailed off in episode two and by the final episode, it had hurtled rapidly towards its terminal decline. 

I understand that the BBC’s intention was to take a creative approach the subject, concentrating on the burden of responsibility thrust upon the film’s real-life heroine, Wiltshire’s director of public health, Tracy Daszkiewicz, played by Anne-Marie Duff, an excellent actress.  

I know I’m deviating, but it kept on occurring to me that her Shameless co-actress and far-leftist agitator Maxine Peake usually plays this kind of role. (Beleaguered but feisty heroine.) I wonder if she was offered it?  Peake is also an excellent actress by the way, despite those obnoxious political shenanigans.

Anyway, as soon we saw the cartoon harassment from an angry mob unfairly raining down on poor Tracy things started to go all BBC.  Amplifying the outrage of disgruntled local residents at being inconvenienced seemed like clumsily demonising them for purely dramatic effect. 

A rather sharp contrast to the way the ‘collateral’ victims Dawn Sturgess and her boyfriend Charlie Rowley and their friends and families were elevated, by the shovel-full, to a particularly saccharine ‘BBC’ type of sainthood and pathos. And that funeral! 

It surprised me that the BBC hadn’t roped in one of those carriages and pair that they always have when a character on EastEnders pops their clogs.


I wonder if Melanie was as disappointed as I was to see it veering off the rails after such a promising start.

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