The BBC has been running a drama called 'The Hour' for the past five weeks, it concludes this week. I wrote about it recently and my view hasn't changed. Having been complicit in selling itself as 'the British Mad Men' it proved to be nothing of the sort. It is a thriller masquerading as a birth of hard hitting TV news drama.
I was so confused by the end of last weeks episode I didn't know where we were, what the show was about or why the considerable smartness of the production team hadn't kept a tighter grip on the story and particularly the way modern sensibilities - and phrases - cropped up so regularly. No woman would keep a tin of Birds Custard next to a pack of Brillo Pads in her cupboard.
I won't rehash my Mad Men v The Hour arguments except to say this; if you are writing historical drama set way in the past you have more latitude to make stuff up than you do if you set something sixty years ago. There are too many folk around who remember life as it was in the fifties and there's far too much evidence, film, TV, novels,magazines and newspapers, of how people spoke and acted and thought in the not so distant past.
To dip into the world of the 1950, 60's and 70's can be illuminating. What passed muster then does pass muster now. But isn't it better to show things as they were - as Mad Men attempts to do - rather than project contemporary attitude backwards.
With that in mind I offer you the following ads that tell us much more about our recent past than a show where characters spout modern day phrases and present twenty-first century ideas as 1950's thoughts.
This is the real past.