There comes a point where your work interests impact too heavily on your viewing and spoil the enjoyment.
I enjoyed much about New Town on BBC4 last night. Daniella Nardini, Paul Higgins and Mark Gatiss were excellent, the school play and the irritatingly pushy parent brought smiles of recognition now that I have children at school and nursery. Although I was disappointed that Higgins – the crown prince of swearing in The Thick of it remained restrained throughout.
However, when a plot element turns on stuff you know is wrong it colours the rest – so for Higgins character, a lawyer, to discuss becoming a barrister or lord justice (different systems for each – there are no barristers in the Scottish courts, they’re called advocates – and we don’t have lord justices – that’s English judges of appeal. We simply have Lords Ordinary or Lords in the appellate court – who are senators of the College of Justcie). I would have let that go – others make the mistake (Ian Rankin calls one of his judicial characters Lord Justice in one novel). However, when that slip is compounded with a plot point where Higgins character is concerned that he cannot escape from a contract to buy a house when the contract is oral suggested that if he was doing other people’s conveyancing as well as he did his own then he’d never have struck out on his own, having been struck off years before. In Scotland any contract relating to land must be in writing (that’s been the law for centuries), and the process of contract formation (the missives) is not dealt with overnight (as was suggested in the play) but over days if not weeks. I know these things shouldn’t matter, but when a character’s motivation and the plot is dependent on this – and you know it’s wrong (and most Scottish viewers would know it’s wrong if they’ve ever had any experience in the house-buying process) then the viewing is tainted.