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Graeme Archer

Graeme Archer is a statistician and a former winner of the Orwell Prize for Political Blogging.

I’m sure you’re enjoying JK Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy” on BBC1 on Sunday nights. It’s a quietly daring piece of work, pulling back the cover from an idyllic English village to reveal a seething underbelly of political machination. I was shocked to come across a drama where a right-wing politician is revealed to be cruelly vindictive and without fellow, or charitable, feeling; Michael Gambon’s portrayal of such a politician, of his desire to sell off a community centre and replace it with a property developer’s spa complex, is…transgressive. Daring!

If only more television drama was this radical, and portrayed Conservatives as beings without conscience, moral fibre, and love. There may be hope on the horizon: I’ve gained access to some preview tapes of the new season, sections of which I’ve trancribed below.

Indoctrinate with parent/guardian/other: lunchtimes, weekly.

Bagpuss yawned. “I mean the thing is, Emily, all that old junk cluttered up the shop. Now the back room’s been converted into bedsits, think of the money we’ll make from students and builders.”

“Oh Bagpuss,” sighed Emily. “Not you too. I thought we’d agreed to give everything away, and turn our backs on that hard-nosed capitalism that gives us books, and healthcare, and all that Tory nastiness.”

“Principles are all very well, Emily, but you should have seen the bidding on eBay when I put the magical chocolate biscuit machine online. Mental!”

Emily smiled, remembering the fun the mice had had with their chocolate machine. But… “But where are the mice, Bagpuss?”

“Mmmph?” said her friend, whose mouth appeared to be full.

“You sick Tory fat cat,” said Emily.

*****

Dial M for Malicious Stereotypes: Wednesday evenings

“Me, I am a bourgeois,” said Poirot, self-satisfactorily. 

“Quite,” said Ariadne Oliver, picking at an apple. “That’s why you spend all your time eating and solving murders, when there are far more important issues to be resolved.”

“You mean, madame….?”

“Well, if a woman was in charge of Scotland Yard, we’d be sure to get much more drama about life/work balancing, with lots of subplots about Rubbish Men!”

“You have a problem with your recycling, my friend? And yet only last week I solved the Mystery of the Green Stain, in which the beautiful city of Brighton was brought low after a criminally incompetent gang took over all the services and…”

“No, Hercule! I mean rubbish men. No-one’s going to read your misogynistic dramas until you make them more modern. That means a brave woman battling corruption and a ruined marriage and incompetent colleagues. Think Gillian ‘The Fall’ Anderson, copulating without conscience! Think that Queen woman in ‘Prime Suspect 900’, rattling among the gin bottles!”

“Ma fois! You permit, madame: I do not see crime fighting to be the preserve of any single gender? But here is our good friend, the Inspector Japp. What of this are your views?”

Japp harrumphed, and his chiselled jaw reddened woodily underneath his bushy moustache. “Never mind all this murder crap, Poirot. We’ve got to get down to the newsagent, and find out who dared order a copy of Charlie Hebdo.”

*****

Paddington, Come Home Teatimes, Monday-Thursdays.

Paddington went to visit his friend, Mr Gruber.

“I’m leaving, Paddington. I’m selling my shop to a property spiv, who’s going to close down the community centre where all the drug addicts are rehabilitated, solely in order to kill the beating heart of our community.”

“You sick Tory ****,” said Paddington, giving his ex-friend a hard stare. “I bet you ‘heart’ section 28 too.”

“That’s not fair,” said Mr Gruber, not meeting Paddington’s eye. “I ran the most successful Bear Night this street has ever seen. You should know, ducky!”

****

Poldark redux! Sundays, BBC1

Ross Poldark swam naked into shot. “Look at this six pack!” he shouted at Demelza.

“You men!” replied the real star of the reboot. “All you think about is beer. Never you mind about fishing six packs of beer out of the boiling Cornish seas, Ross Poldark my lover. Those nasty English Tories want to close down the Celtic community centre, so I’ve got to give a speech of sweet reason to inspire the townsfolk into liberal fair-mindedness, and to hell with the council finances!”

“Ye-es,” agreed Ross, rubbing himself down with a rough flannel, in the authentic darkness of a Cornish tin mine. “But somebody’s got to pay the council tax, you know. After all, the debt’s still rising and it’ll be our kids who–”

“Sweet liberal reason!” shouted Demelza, sweeping from the room to the cries of happy children.

****

The Tomorrow People: Saturday evenings

This exciting family science-fiction adventure stars Canon Giles Fraser and the Greek finance minister in a race against time. “Quick, Giles!” shouts the Greek finance guy. “We’ve only 24 hours to save the Earth from Horst Territee and his evil sidekick, Toree K(l)utz. Activate the emergency teleprinter!”

Giles hissed his outrage at everything that wasn’t him. “With my windows-into-souls machine I can see the evil that beats at the heart of every section-28-loving Tory monster!” he judged, bizarrely.

“Er, Giles?” said the Greek guy. “That windows-into-souls machine? It’s just an old shaving mirror.”

*****

Five go off on one. Sunday afternoons.

“Hey,” said Anne, plumping some cushions. “Let’s have an adventure. Something with drug addicts and evil property-speculating Tory types. Oh stop licking me, Timmy! You’ll make a mess of my artfully-arranged cushions.”

“It’s not Timmy who’s licking you, Anne,” said Julian. “I can see him outside the caravan, cavorting with Dick. Where’s George?”

Later, the friends decided to write an important letter to the newspaper. In this way, great evil was averted.

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