Friday, 8 February 2013

Pretty soon, there won’t be anything left on TV that a right-winger could bear to watch

I was impressed to hear that one of this blog’s regular commenters, SDG, had watched a recent edition of Question Time, because I no longer can. I had to cut out Newsnight  several years ago, as I got tired of going to bed in bad mood. I generally try to watch British news bulletins on ITV or Sky simply because they make me feel slightly less as if I’m being hectored in humourless, school-marmish tones by urban, public sector Guardian-reading equality-junkies who'd all prefer to live in Sweden.

Apart from sport, old movies and BBC Four arts documentaries, my main televisual pleasures are new films or crime series or comedies, but I’m getting too old for slasher movies or superheroes, decent British comedy programmes are as rare as good economic news, American cop shows (at least the ones we get to see) seem to be going through a distinct lull, and home-grown thrillers have been become so unrelentingly left-wing that you know the perp is going to turn out to be the first successful businessman, government agent, British soldier or CIA agent that we meet – it’s a racing certainty that it won’t be the black guy, or the Muslim or the terrorist (especially not if we’re talking about a black Muslim terrorist – oh deary me, no.)

Last week’s episode of BBC One’s Ripper Street, set in late Victorian Whitechapel, started with a printer of politically seditious literature being blown up by a bomb at his office. At first, we were led to believe that he was a bomb-maker who’d inadvertently blown himself up. But I know the rules by now, so I turned to my wife and said “the anarchists are innocent – the British government did this”.

Turned out to be a mixture of Special Branch, high-ranking policemen and spies at the Tsarist Russian embassy trying to blame mainly foreign, left-wing agitators. There was a strike going on in the background – the fault of bastard capitalists, naturally.

The previous week, the perp was a former high-ranking British army officer. A leading businessman and an evil shrink turned out to be the guilty parties the week before that. The only people who never seemed to be at fault in the Victorian East End were working-class criminals.

And, of course, there’s a muck-raking newspaperman fomenting unrest . (And it goes without saying that the whores are all lovely, decent women.)

The implications are clear: if it hadn’t been for businessmen, top cops, the British government, army officers and a free press, Victorian London would have been a multicultural, socialistic paradise on earth. (This is now the standard BBC line – a perfectly dreadful Doctor Who Christmas special was crammed with sneering references to “Victorian values”: decades of philanthropy, hard-work, wealth-creation, political reform, increasing literacy and improved health-care dismissed in one mindless phrase.)

Broadcasters view the modern world through the same left-slanting prism, of course. In last week’s two-part BBC One forensic crime drama, Silent Witness, the bad guys turned out to be a successful businessman, the British government (who’d covered up an accident involving a nuclear warhead - oops, butterfingers!), the army, a shadowy member of the security services who specialised in smearing or murdering would-be truth-tellers, and a posh-boy government minister (a very Tory-looking peer of the realm, so you knew from the start he’d turn out to be wrong ‘un).

Last night, in the first part of this week’s Silent Witness, an army officer asks our scientist heroes to investigate the death of his brother in Afghanistan. Knowing from the start that the soldier’s death will have been the fault of British soldiers (either friendly fire, or deliberate murder because he was about to blow the whistle on atrocities committed by the British army against peace-loving Afghan civilians) and nothing whatsoever to do with noble Taliban psychopaths, I switched over, because I’ve seen it all before - again and again and again.  Just can’t take any more liberals crying stinking fish in their own back yard.  (If I’m substantially wrong about the plot, by the way, I promise to take out a subscription to the New Statesman.)

I wonder why so many left-wingers who work in television (and pretty much everyone involved in TV News and drama output is left-wing) feel compelled to paint such an unremittingly bleak portrait of this country and its history. I'm beginning to suspect they really would be happier in Sweden.

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