I’d quite enjoyed Julian Barnes’ novel ‘Arthur and George’ a few years ago, so I thought I’d give the ITV adaptation a go. The story – about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective-like espousal of a lost cause in reaction both to bereavement and to Holmes’s unsupportable weight – is a fascinatingly disturbing one, and I like Martin Clunes a lot.
Well, I watched for twenty minutes (forcing myself to ignore the persistent, obtrusive, irrelevant background music and cupping my ears to try and catch, beneath the tinkling pianos and droning cellos, what the actors were actually saying). I did quite well, and was getting quite drawn in to the story (although flashbacks to Wolf Hall and how to do it properly kept intruding), when the story went blank and (I think) four minutes of very loud adverts asserted themselves.
I say that, but to be honest I can’t be sure about the loudness or the duration of the adverts. I went and did a bit of dishwasher loading, came back and undid the mute button, and watched a bit more. Even more dialogue-drowning, subtlety- bludgeoning foreground music; and then, after another twenty minutes – well, you know the rest. I switched off at ad break #3, and won’t be watching next week’s episode; which is a great shame, because I’m sure there was a pretty good drama lurking somewhere behind the crud.
When will they ever learn? Extended drama (with or without the music! That’s another rant, really) requires extended attention. Just go to the cinema or, even better, the theatre to prove this. If the only way to fund quality television is to slice it up and dump dollops of gunk into the interstices, I’d rather do without it.
To put it another way – Advertising Is Evil!