Gently does it

Years ago, when the mobile library still called near our house, I used to go through all their crime. I found a good selection of novels labelled Black Dagger Crime, and they were nearly always very good, so I hunted for them. One I remember especially, was Alan Hunter’s Gently to the Summit, which sounded just like my thing, suggesting a slow walk uphill, rather than the wild dash I tended to be subjected to.

I’ve enjoyed the George Gently television programmes that the BBC have shown over the last couple of years. I’m not sure if they are based on actual books, or if it’s one of these ‘based on the characters by XX’ affairs.

Martin Shaw is always watchable, and sometimes I wonder if it’s just him we watch. No matter who he plays, he’s always Martin Shaw. Nothing wrong with that, and I’m not suggesting he can’t act. There’s just something very Martin Shaw-y about him, whether he is Thomas More on the stage or Judge John Deed on television, or anybody in-between.

Starting last night on BBC1, we seem to have another series of Gently to look forward to. It was good, but I do wonder if they get their facts right when it comes to period behaviour? Some things don’t matter too much, but it’s ‘the mobile phone syndrome’. You write a story set today, with the odd flashback to fifteen years ago, and you forget that not every schoolchild had a mobile glued to their ears in those far flung days. As the Resident IT Consultant burst out last night; ‘that’s no 1964 pub!’. It probably wasn’t, though I’d like to know what he knows of pubs in 1964. His wife was thrown out of one in 1966, so she didn’t see much of what it looked like, either.

Last night’s episode had child abuse in a children’s home as the background to the crime. Granted that the world knew less of such things then, and granted that what was known was treated differently; but were the police quite that naive? The drawback with viewers knowing their 1960s from their 1990s, is balanced nicely by the fact that there are still people around from that period in history, who can be asked what it was like in the olden days. If a scriptwriter should want to know, that is.

But as I said, Martin Shaw is always good.


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