wed 12/08/2020

The Cut (episode four), BBC Switch | reviews, news & interviews

The Cut (episode four), BBC Switch

The Cut (episode four), BBC Switch

In which scriptwriters turn up for work. Finally.

I have a little story concerning correct usage. Several years ago, when BBC Three had yet to overtake Channel 5 and VH1 as perhaps the world’s leading purveyor of documentaries about breasts and suchlike, I received a press release in the post. The young channel’s fresh approach to quality control on screen had percolated through to its publicity department. The release contained a motorway pile-up of typos. A red mist descended, not unadjacently to where I sat, and I confess that I wrote off. To the head of publicity, BBC, Wood Lane, postcode, the whole bit.

The letter was delicately phrased. “I don’t want a single halfpenny of my licence fee going anywhere near the take-home pay of the illiterate floozy who etc etc.” Something of that order anyway. There wasn’t anything green-inked about it. Or not excessively. Heard nothing back. About a year later I was having a drink with someone from the BBC and mentioned my letter in passing. Her pint of stout thumped the table. (She was from Ulster.) “You’re the grass!” she screamed, eyes out on stalks, hands clapped to her face. The Peace Process was not yet a done deal. Instinct found me reaching for my knees.

It’s a thankless job protecting the Queen’s English. The public has the same relationship with pedants that they have with the interferers who ask them to pick up their own rubbish. “Excuse me, sir, could I ask you to put that apostrophe in the place provided?” “Oh yeah? Gonna make me? Eh? Eh?? EH??? Its my sentence and if I choose I can shove my @#!*ing apostrophe up it’s own fundament!”

Sigh. I mention all this only because I’ve been back to the BBC Switch site to watch the fourth episode of The Cut. It was Stephen’s entrée last night and, mirabile dictu, the scriptwriters have actually deigned to clock in for a shift at the coalface. Only three days late, gents. Not sure what they were up to in episodes one, two and three. Seeking plot inspiration elsewhere, maybe. Or observing the Masonic ritual honoured by creatives everywhere. We need not know. Thanking you for your attendance anyway.

I quite liked ep four. I quite liked Stephen. The brushwork is still done with a paint-roller, but he reminds me a little of myself, gangling along boarding-school corridors in winklepickers, teetering on the lip of milksoppy tears as he deciphers metaphysical love poems to a class of dolts. Back flooded the memories. Apart from the bit where Stephen thwacks his enemy, an implausibly ethnic Flashman, smack on the conk. I wasn’t expecting that denouement. As a veteran viewer of the plotless wasteland that is The Cut, I wasn’t expecting any denouement.

So anyway... Stephen, I feel certain, would support a campaign to protect the language from bad habits. Perhaps he could have a word with his creators. There’s a link on BBC Switch to something called The 5:19 Show. “It's live, it's mad, it's in our basement,” it says. “Watch every weekday at, err, 5:19pm.” Er, that’s not how you spell “er”. You spell "er" with one less R. To err is human. To er is also human. To confuse the two is subhuman. I feel like thwacking a BBC conk, hard, now. You can forgive the Corporation for an online teen soap which streams jerkily and has truanting scriptwriters. But can we at least get the little words right? Or next time it won't just be the ink that's green. One more day of The Cut. I’m thinking of skipping the omnibus.

Comments

Only one comment, Jasper, on what uv written so far about The Cut: not sure if ur allowing enough for who they're targetting. Not saying they shdn't ask the audience to stretch a bit (and not disagreeing with you that so far maybe they're not) but they seem to be going mainly for the teenage female demographic (think that's the word). Declaration of interest: I'm Matt Kane's (who plays Stephen) dad.

I like the show wish they were longer!

"Er, that’s not how you spell “er”. You spell "er" with one less R." Hi Jasper, I think you mean 'one fewer Rs'. Also, you can spell 'Er' however you please. For example, I spell it 'Uh'. It's not standardised modern usage. Countable and uncountable nouns are. That's pretty juicy irony coming in an article concerning correct usage. I wouldn't have bothered pointing this out, but you seem very self-important.

Great website...and cool article man...thanx for the great post.

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