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John Burns' Blog

TV Drama

Published: Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Anyone who begrudges the BBC licence fee should have been watching Alan Bleasdale’s film The Sinking of the Laconia on BBC TV last week. The film was based on the true story about a German u boat which torpedoed the liner then stopped to rescue the survivors. The best drama of the week and possibly the year. Can you imagine Rupert Murdoch’s Sky financing quality like that? Me neither.

That film inevitably brought to mind Das Boot (The Boat) the German made drama about a U-boat during the battle of the Atlantic but I was also reminded of Nicholas Montsarrat’s epic novel The Cruel Sea which I read in my youth.

“I haven’t laughed as much since Ma caught her tits in the mangle.” Some years ago that quote by Daley Thompson, Britain’s Olympic gold medallist in the decathlon made it into the Observer’s “Quotes of the Year”. What the compiler didn’t realise what that it was not original; it was uttered by one of the ship’s crew in The Cruel Sea.

Still with TV drama, I recorded the entire series of Downton Abbey on ITV over several weeks and watched the whole drama over the Christmas and New Year holidays. It was written by Julian Fellowes and it was just about perfect. It’s right up there with the best of BBC costume dramas like Pride and Prejudice. Lark Rise to Candleford is thin gruel in comparison.

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