Belfast Telegraph

Rab's Week: Why TV murder dramas like The Fall are killing me

Welcome to the sideways world of our star columnist

The creator of disturbing TV series The Fall, filmed and set in Belfast, has rejected complaints that it features gratuitous violence against women. Allan Cubitt says more women are killed in Midsomer Murders. You show me your female body-count, I'll show you mine.

Isn't it the case that, in Midsomer, people died politely with little in the way of dark psychology to trouble us? Many of the murders were crimes of passion, as I recall from seeing a couple of partial episodes at the gym.

But the more recent trend in fun entertainment most frequently features serial killers of women. To that extent, The Fall is right down there with the adult kidz.

It's part of a movement claiming the unconscious minds of the "entertainment" (and literary) industry of northern Europe, nowhere more so than Weirdo HQ, Scandinavia.

That movement is obsessed with the serial killing of women. It's odd how so many series have the same theme. Their creators are like dinosaurs all turning their heads in the same direction and growling: "Serial killers are the thing."

It wasn't always thus. True, nearly all our screen entertainment features violence. We expect it, even look forward to it. But it needn't get so dirty. Some of you may remember the only TV drama series ever to major on philosophy - Kung Fu, in the 1970s. Periodically, there'd be flashes back to a Buddhist monastery, where "Grasshopper" asked his master about violence, lust and pride.

And every viewer thought: "Never mind all that cack. Get to the bit where he chops the burly bad guy in the neck with the side of his hand."

But at least Grasshopper made an effort to avoid this, using violence only as a last resort, and deploying only his bare hands and feet, even against weapons. Not much use in the real world, maybe, but worth an "e" for effort. Our attitude to violence generally is odd. If somebody were to land an old-fashioned haymaker on a nuclear weapons operator, somebody prepared to immolate tens of thousands of children at the drop of a brass hat, our media would be appalled at such "violence" by the puncher.

I accept that we demand more these days than Captain Kirk saving the universe by punching somebody in the tentacles. But current trends in entertainment are disturbing. And I'm fed up with being disturbed.

Sunday: The sandal brigade sock it to me

Deplorably, I couldn’t stop staring. Staring is bovine and, as I dislike receiving it, I try not to practise it. But this man at the gym fascinated me. He was about my age, in marginally worse condition.

He’d a clerkly, Captain Mainwaring face, and had obviously decided many years ago that he was never going to be a model or actor. So he didn’t care about his appearance.

But his attire was appalling: grey, sweat-patched top, navy “tea planter” shorts with big pockets, light grey woollen socks — and sandals. He couldn’t possibly have made himself look more of an arse. It seemed almost deliberate. And I believe he may even have the last laugh.

The fashionistas have decreed that socks with sandals are in. Half of me applauds this nod to nerdiness. Half of me stares in horror.

Monday: Did you ear the one about Katie and the spider...?

The nation’s ears are under attack. I don’t mean from the doomph-doomph-doomph “music” that emanates from the small cars of teenagers or through the walls of neighbours better suited to living in a pond.

I mean from wildlife. At a packed press conference in Westminster’s controversial House of Commons, singer Katie Melua announced she’d had a live spider extracted from her ear, where it had made itself at home for a week.

Melua, who grew up in Belfast, reported that she’d heard the beast “shuffling”.

Outrageous. To take up residence is one thing, but shuffling is just a step too far. Particularly with eight legs.

My advice? Ignore any beastie saying: “Lend me your ears.”

But the ear isn’t the only orifice under attack. An Edinburgh woman recently had a 3in-long Vietnamese leech extracted from her nostril.

Be vigilant, folks. Where possible, keep your ears and nostrils firmly closed.

Tuesday: To infinity and beyond, Derek?

Helmets off to the man from Co Down who still intends going up. Retired banker Derek Heatly says he’s undeterred from travelling to ooter space on Virgin Galactic after a pilot died on a test flight. We’re sure that, apart from the small risk of being abducted by aliens, Derek will be fine.

Wednesday: Oxford students chicken out

The Oxford Union has hosted debates on many important issues, such as pacifism, Hitler and top stuff like yonder environment.

However, none has exercised its collective mind so much as the recent debate on whether it was “socially acceptable” to have Yorkshire pudding with roast chicken.

Authoritative textbooks about eating say that you should only ever have Yorkshire pudding with roast beef.

But a recent shock survey revealed that most ratepayers now had the battered repast with chicken.

Interestingly, the union chickened out of a vote.

But the mood in the hall was described as “decidedly pro-chicken”.

We live in interesting times.

Saturday: Well, i’m heading off to the pub for a doughnut or two

Pressure is mounting on drinks companies to label alcohol bottles with calorie counts.

Since becoming calorie conscious — ooh, get him! — I’ve been appalled at the figures.

A pint of lager contains 190, same as a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut.

A small glass of wine equals a slice of Madeira cake. Hmm, why not just have the cake and doughnut? Magic! But you wouldn’t get that tingly feeling.

It’s hard getting your head round the idea that liquid actually makes you fat.

Nuttier still is the idea that, as alcohol, liquid dehydrates you.

How does that work? We need more convincing of these outlandish claims.

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