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Getting it right

Pedant: (noun) A person who is excessively concerned with minor details and rules.

I’m afraid I’m one of those people who shouts at the TV when I believe that artistic licence has been used to a greater extent than it need be, or something is just plain wrong. This mostly concerns London, it’s history and locations, but having been a chef in a former life it does also encompass cookery programs (Let’s not get started on that topic or we’ll be here all day).

I recently watched a production entitled Judy, which from what I know of Judy Garland was well portrayed and factual. Perhaps I was in a nitpicking mood at the time as I was constantly muttering under my breath (apparently) “Wrong” and making tutting noises. These criticisms stemmed from the locations used and some of the street scenes. Set as it was in the 1960s they obviously wanted to emphasise the fact by using icons from the era, but what was portrayed seemed to be a traffic jam of bubble cars and classic Lambretta scooters, mingled with young people dressed in Mary Quant and Victorian military costume depending on their gender. Also being set in England the pub used in several scenes obviously had to be “Olde Worlde” (oh how I hate that term). Pity that they used a tavern built in the late 1980s. The story revolves around Garland’s waning career and her appearances in 1968 at the Talk of the Town, a very famous nightclub which was situated at the corner of Charing Cross Road and Cranbourn Street. The club became a casino in the early 2000s and having never entered I have no idea what the interior looked like, but the producers did a convincing job. However, at no point did the exterior shots portray the area around the club or the club itself. On more than one occasion, Judy exits the the club and is then seen walking along a small alley to enter said Olde Worlde pub. This is St John’s Path in Farringdon, about a mile and a half and a 35 minute walk from the nightclub. It must have been a great pub for her to walk all that way.

What does make me happy is when a program goes that extra mile in terms of detail and factual correctness. One such is the excellent BBC series Ripper Street, currently available on Amazon Prime. It’s a jumble of fact and fiction cleverly portraying the lives of the three main characters who all work for the Victorian Metropolitan Police’s H Division based in Leman Street in East London’s Whitechapel district. Set in 1889, six months after the final Jack the Ripper murder everything about it appears to be right. The dialogue, I believe, is grammatically correct for the period, there are few if any “Cor blimey Guv’nor and no mistake, God bless the Prince O’ Wales, would you Adam and Eve it “.

Detective Inspector Edmund Reid

Some of the characters were actual people. Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (center of the photo above played by Matthew Macfadyen) was the Local Inspector and Head of the CID at H Division in Whitechapel in 1888, as is his boss, both in the series and in real life Frederick Abberline who had worked himself to a breakdown in trying to catch the perpetrator of the Ripper murders. Leman Street where the police station is located in the series still exists today and was the home to the Victorian H Divisions station as was the Brown Bear pub where all good coppers go after work for a pint.

The Brown Bear (with the lorry outside)

The Brown Bear (with the hanging baskets)

Some of the scenarios are based in fact and real life happenings are eluded to. I was more than proud when the Cleveland Street Scandal was mentioned in one episode, as I talk about it in one of my tours, soon to be released on VoiceMap audio tours. It’s a great series and I would recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to watch it. It’s a shame that other productions don’t strive as hard to get things right.

If you or a member of your family think that they might be contracting or suffering from Pedantry, there a many organisations and help lines that can offer advice on living with this debilitating and socially crippling condition.

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