I didn’t watch the latest episode of the latest attempt to cash in on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s magazine sketch on the night it was broadcast, but the wails of despair were audible (or tweetable) throughout London.
The following morning, a swathe of tube geek destruction had swept across the city as people woke up to the terrifying news that a form of light entertainment might not have accurately recorded a trip on the London Underground.
That’s not a District Line tune they cried; That’s the wrong route they moaned; That’s the wrong station they exclaimed in mock horror.
Or maybe real horror?
So, I watched the programme myself last night — partly due to curiosity, and partly due to BBC4’s bizarre decision to show Mary Poppins at prime time just a day after it was shown on BBC1, leaving me with little else to watch last night.
What transport horrors awaited me?
Well, erm, not a lot frankly.
Yes, they did seem to go in at Westminster Station and walk around the disused parts of Charing Cross. Yes, they did seem to be watching video footage of a Jubilee Line train and saying it is the District line.
But so what?
It’s a bit of light entertainment, not a bloody documentary.
Yes, it might have been amusing to write a blog post about the subtle differences, and do so in a humourous style. Actually, considering some the locations they got into, I would have been tempted to write an “OMG!!!!! How Amazing Is That!!!!” type blog post.
But the reaction hasn’t been humourous or amazement, but outrage.
How dare they despoil our beloved transport network like that!
Any decent Londoner knows than you can’t take train X from location Y like that. Disgusting!
I know how exceptionally difficult it is to film on the London Underground, and frankly, I think they did a pretty decent job of hacking together a load of footage into a moderately decent narrative.
I am actually damn impressed that they were able to use the secondary service tunnels at Charing Cross for some of the footage, knowing what a pain they probably were to film in as some of the spaces they were in are now filled with ventilation equipment.
They were also in a winding tunnel running under Trafalgar Square, which was constructed to carry spoil and workers digging the Jubilee Line, and today is a convenient storage tunnel.
I found it enjoyable that more of the public were able to get fleeting glances of the hidden world that lies under London’s streets that has long fascinated me.
Then again, rather than delightfully watching them wander around real “abandoned tunnels” under Charing Cross, maybe I should have been wailing about minor errors elsewhere.
I notice that there hasn’t been the same level of outrage about other programmes or films in the past — you certainly wouldn’t be catching a tube train from Aldwych to run under Westminster, as V for Vendetta showed. The extension of the Central Line in Quatermass and the Pit wasn’t in the centre of London, but on the outskirts. Etcetera.
People have a choice, they can either just relax and watch a bit of light entertainment, and maybe chuckle at continuity errors… or we can live in an ever more tediously pedantic world where even fiction is required to be absolutely factually accurate.
Personally, for this particular show, I find the way the camera jumps around the place and the use computer graphics to be vastly more irritating than a few minor issues about which tube station they are walking through.
Anyway, the late Jeremy Brett is still the best Sherlock Holmes ever!