The black box

As anyone who has ever switched on a tv, or read a magazine in the UK will know, this week has been a monumental one for the cheery London based soap that is Eastenders. As well as characters returning from the dead, characters who had returned from the dead actually being dead, characters we’d never seen before walking around carrying bunches of flowers, and characters forgetting they were characters and using the wrong names, there was the all important reveal of the killer of Lucy Beale.

Now I have to confess to feeling incredibly smug at this point as I guessed correctly. No not after the final scene but before it was even aired. I even have witnesses in my office that can testify to the fact I guessed before the perpetrator was revealed. I like to put this clever bit of guess work down to the fact I read an awful lot of crime books. I imagine there are lots of crime readers out there who came to the same conclusion, and for the same reasons no matter how far fetched it might actually seem. Of course the furore surrounding the live Eastenders hasn’t just been about Lucy’s killer. Comments sections online are full of complaints about how unrealistic it has all been. Surely the killer wouldn’t be able to manage it, surely someone would know the dead person wasn’t dead, surely there is no one in the world who actually finds Phil Mitchell scary.

It’s not just Eastenders that have the monopoly on being unrealistic. Broadchurch has been slated for its apparent lack of realism, people wearing the wrong wigs, pacemakers being fitted and ten minutes later the recipient being down the pub, people getting table service in a Nandos. All these things are apparently ruining the enjoyment of many viewers.  Hmmm – those people may have missed one vital point here – it’s not real.

If the rather wooden acting isn’t enough to give it away, you’d think the fact that all the people are really small and seemingly living it a little black box in the corner of the lounge would help.

It’s the same with books, I seem to see loads of reviews recently that have bemoaned the fact that stories are not realistic. In fact I have done it myself, picking up authors on points that in my head seem to be completely unrealistic and just wouldn’t happen. Well fair enough if suddenly the murderer is caught by a pink elephant in a tutu singing a Phil Collin’s track then this may be pushing the boundaries too far, but otherwise does it really matter?

I read books and watch television for entertainment, and on the whole I read and watch fiction. Crime fiction, soap opera fiction the clue is in the word fiction, its not real life.

On the most part I am very glad of that fact. I’d hate to live in an Eastenders reality, I’d be unemployed for a start as I work in an office which no one on the tv show seems to do, I have a washing machine so would never go to the laundrette, and as much as I like him I wouldn’t want to have an affair with Mr F Senior. Let’s be honest, if fiction actually mirrored reality it would be incredibly dull, I’m sure most people are just like me, and spend the evenings cooking, reading, going to the pub having a quiet drink and watching tv. I’m pretty certain that would make a pretty dull episode of any soap, and certainly not one that would stand to gain national news headlines, for which I’m very grateful.


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