The art of the TV trailer has improved immeasurably over the years. As a lad I remember a large BBC logo (the lines making up a 1 or 2) on one half of the screen over a black background with a still from the show in the other half and voiceover man trying to make it exciting. You can see some of these on various DVD releases – including Star Cops, where an image of a slightly menacing David Calder accompanied by Trevor Cooper, and then the Scooby gang, completely fails to give the impression of a Philip Martin script directed by Graeme Harper.
In recent weeks we’ve seen the Holby City trailer (what’s that all about?) and House of Saddam.
The former is glossy, slightly bizarre, with leather, latex, whips, forked tongues, wedding dresses, blood, &c – wholly unlike Holby City (a dull “drama” about the personal lives of doctors and nurses) to the extent I’ve drafted a letter reporting it to the local OFT because the reality bore no relation to the world of strange delights promised by the trailer.
That for House of Saddam completely put me off the show. It wasn’t the first trailer – Godfather music, the running make-up, melting faces. It was the second – the laughing Saddam reminded me of Sid James. And from then, it was Carry on the House of Sid-dam for me, exacerbated by the blonde woman potentially being a Barbara Windsor or Joan Sim role; and the guy playing Tariq Aziz obviously being Charles Hawtrey in the trailer as he crumpled and quaked before Sid-dam’s “A- ha-ha-ha” laughter. I was waiting for Kenneth Connor to appear saluting indefatigibiity (I ruled out Peter Butterworth as being too dishevelled at the best of times); with Bernard Breslaw as Stormin’ Norman. I couldn’t see an obvious role for Kenneth Williams – but reflection suggested that given his bizarre accent Malcolm Rifkind was a possibility.
And having sat during the seconds of the trailer and concocted this entire Carry on Sid-dam world, I knew I could never watch it – because I’d be laughing at inappropriate points of the drama.