Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the wee donkey that was great television

There is an excellent review of an excellent Series, the latest “Line of Duty”, in The Times today. The “Tall Poppy Syndrome” – something we regrettably seem to have inherited from Australia – means that it is smart to knock the successful, particularly if it comes from the BBC. From the start this series of “Line of Duty” suffered from it. Well it triumphed in the end.

Line of Duty” – the BBC at its best

The originality of “Line of Duty” was perhaps its greatest strength. It resembled nothing else on television and as such it grabbed one’s attention. When the goodies and the baddies are so intertwined it’s hard to separate them it makes compelling viewing.

Drama doesn’t have to be realistic to be engaging. If it creates a world which doesn’t exist, but which we believe could exist, it does its job. I’ve no idea whether such a thing as AC12 exists in the Police Force. But I know that it could. And I know for sure that some police officers have been institutionally corrupt over the years. Most coppers aren’t bent – but some are. That’s the point.

I once lived in a Little Britain world where the Police Force was corrupt. The Royal Hong Kong Police forty plus years ago was run by crooks (all British) riddled with villains and beholden to an Organised Crime Group called the Triads. It took an AC12 type operation (called the ICAC) to clean these very foul Augean stables. So don’t say “Line of Duty” couldn’t happen. It did.

Our Arts are under threat from cuts and the BBC is very much in the sights of the philistines. That it makes great programmes won’t count for much when the ideologues really get going. That “Line of Duty” could have been made by Netflix is probably true. But it isn’t the point.

The BBC still makes great programmes for all to watch uninterrupted by advertising and not subject to hard commercial constraints. The Licence Fee is a bargain. Let’s hope that “Line of Duty” reminds the decision makers that the Beeb, at its best, is outstanding. Don’t hold your breath – Mother of God don’t do that.

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