Distraction devils and silent witnesses…

‘Look at you two with your mobiles…’

We are watching television, Silent Witness on BBC1. Our daughter is looking at a small screen instead of the larger one and so am I. My wife isn’t and hence her smug comment, which frankly is a cheek as she often has a phone in front of her face. Or some knitting.

Having a smartphone does change the way we all watch television, or it does in this house and we aren’t unique about many things. Old-fashioned me watches the television while reading the newspaper, or while failing to read the newspaper or watch television properly. Modern-me watches television while glancing at my mobile and failing to watch television properly.

There is a reason for needing my phone, apart from the one about being a dreadful fiddler with the bloody thing. I am trying to work out what a cast member was in before.

A few years back she was in something I watched and my need to know this is greater than my need to understand the convoluted and ridiculous plot. Well, it wouldn’t be Silent Witness without a convoluted and ridiculous plot. And forensic scientists who run about like action-hero cops.

Her name has gone missing and it takes a bit of Google detective work to track her down. I raise my eyes to watch something gruesome and relevant, then drop them to make a discovery. Sarah Smart is her name and the drama nibbling at the margins of my mind was Funland. It was set in Blackpool and was on about the same time as another BBC drama set in Blackpool. That one was called Blackpool, just to avoid confusion.

I return to Silent Witness and Dr Nikki Alexander is running about again. Or over-emoting. Or doing a bit of both, which is her speciality. The witness might be silent but no one else is. There is a lot of shouting and the one we wondered about, although only in the past five minutes or so, turns out to be the guilty party.

A few days earlier and we are watching Tom Hardy mumble his way through Taboo. It’s a good show from the writer of Peaky Blinders, but I want to know what an actor was in before. Without bothering Google, I declare that he was in Luther. Our daughter uses Google to tell me I am wrong.

On Sunday, we are trying to make sense of Sherlock on the BBC. Again, I spot someone familiar. “He used to the in the League of Gentlemen,” I say. Google and our daughter prove me wrong on that count, too.

I wonder if I should give up chasing actors who aren’t who they should be and just watch the programmes instead. But where would the fun be in that?

After Silent Witness, it is too early for bed, so I finish watching something weird and sort of good on Netflix. It’s called The OA. The other episodes were watched on the main TV, but our rubbish BT-TV box no longer cooperates with Netflix: it just cuts out all the time.

I watch on the laptop instead, having worked out how to do that without daughterly intervention. I use Bluetooth to put the sound through the wireless speaker I was given as a birthday present. And it works. I can hear what’s going on now. But I still can’t understand the plot in the final episode.

Netflix is the distraction devil. All sorts of things on there you don’t need to watch. At heart, I remain a BBC sort who prefers to watch a drama one episode a week. It’s more of a treat that way. Spotting Sherlock in the listings is always a treat, or it used to be. Like Doctor Who, Sherlock seems to have fallen in love with itself, and wandered far from anything like a graspable plot.

As for Tom Hardy visiting The Mumbles, I think that drama has something going for it. So long as you turn the volume up.

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