A class apart

Telly film we watched tonight about the council estate boy who gets put into a public school for a social experiment and in the process his mother Kat (from East Enders) gets off with the headmaster. Posh tosh. Why were we watching it?  Because it got filmed in Hoddesdon and up at Haileybury public school on the hill and my son was supposed to be on one of the location shoots. Well.. we never got to see him. I suppose I should be cautious on the basis of 1 programme to generalise about TV but I’m going to anyway. You see having lived in the area for 20 years – and 13 of them in a road of council houses it was a bit of an eye opener how a TV production shot locally reduced everything to 2 dimensional stereotypes.  The local council estates weren’t gritty enough so they dropped in some cooling towers during postproduction to make it look more wretched. Working class women wear thongs, talk about shagging and jump drunkenly on bouncy castles. On council estates they don’t have conservatories – they sit in burned out cars instead. Posh people of course do none of those things – they have affairs and send their children to private school where they are academically successful and emtionally confused. Well I’ve lived alongside working class and middle class people for a long time and I don’t recognise either of those stereotypes. Now perhaps this is all TV is capable of – in which case I wonder why bother. It did make me wonder how many other TV dramas abuse locations in the same way and reduce locations (and characters) to crude stereotypes. Even George Cole was struggling. 40 years ago he was here on the Easney estate filming the St Trinians films. About as realistic. It shows how much depends on the actors to create real drama and human interest in the foreground. But on TV the settings are stage sets. Even if you don’t need stagehands to paint them. End of rant.

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