Being nit-picking

I had an uncle who I was very fond of, but whenever he watched a film or TV programme he seemed to take more delight in noticing errors, mistakes, continuity glitches and anachronisms than actually enjoying the film. He was a railway buff so was always commenting on whether such a train would run on those sort of lines in that particular year, or whether such an engine would be used for that sort of service, or the livery, or the gauge or the points… and as for aircraft…!

Well, I hope I’m not turning into him, and certainly I’m not very good at noticing whether someone is wearing a blue hat which becomes a red hat, or has a coat which is open then buttoned up then open again all within one scene… However…

Last night I was watching the new series of Grantchester, based on the books by James Runcie. I am Cambridge born and bred and know Grantchester very well, and as many of the scenes take place on, by or in the river, which I have swum in countless times as a child, I have enjoyed watching it.

It is quite a lightweight drama, but very charming in its way, good acting, fairly intriguing stories apart from a couple of annoying and unnecessary plot-lines. I enjoyed the first series, but in my opinion, this second series isn’t as good… and in particular, last night’s episode which was about Russian spies seemed particularly nonsensical, unbelievable and almost tedious… I guess the idea of Cambridge and the 1950’s had to suggest an espionage plot, but it was so hammy and actually ridiculous, that if it was set anywhere else than my home town I wouldn’t watch again.

What irritated me more,was a sort of carelessness in research; I’m suer all the interior scenes and al the costumes were correct and exactly right but two things (among several others) particularly grated.

  • the main character Sidney meets an old friend and hugs him. No, just no. men did not hug men in the 1950’s. My dad was a similar age to Sidney and he was always young in his ways, forward thinking and modern but the first time I ever saw him hug another man was his brother-in-law in 1984 – thirty years after Sidney was hugging his friend. Men hug each other all the time now, my husbands greets old friends with a big bear hug, but he’s only done that in the last ten or so years.
  • eating a main meal with just a fork in the right hand. No, again, just no. Unless the character is American or has a broken left hand, then in those days only a cake fork was allowed in a right hand. British people just did not cut up their food then use a fork – nothing to do with snobbery, or class, it was just convention… and in fact there was a scene in The Great Escape where an American escapee gave himself away by using a fork in his right hand.
  • oh and one other thing… (I know i said two things) … the plot involved night climbers – students who climbed the towers of the famous King’s College chapel by night. In a ludicrous couple of scenes, there were night climbers wearing ordinary clothes, town suits and town shoes… no again, just no, absolutely no. I knew a man who was a night climber in his youth; he and his chums climbed the chapel towers several times as students, on one occasion leaving an upside down chamber pot on the pinnacle. They always wore the climbing gear of the time, and were roped… so to see these chaps clambering up in shiny shoes and three-piece suits was once again, just ridiculous.

Am I turning into my uncle? I hope not!

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