PERSPECTIVE: New Beeb sitcom left me hoping for a decent ad break

You know how when you get back from holiday you feel brain dead, aghast at how little has changed in your absence and loath to do any work ever again? Well, that’s just how I felt after a recent two-week break.

You know how when you get back from holiday you feel brain dead,

aghast at how little has changed in your absence and loath to do any

work ever again? Well, that’s just how I felt after a recent two-week

break.



I should have foreseen the condition and arranged for someone else to

write this week’s column. Instead,I procured a review tape ready for my

return so I could get straight down to work.



The programme was the Creatives (BBC2, last Friday), a six-part sitcom

about, well, some creatives in an Edinburgh advertising agency. ’It’ll

be funny,’ I was assured. ’Remember that series called, blasphemously

enough, Campaign, from the 80s? Well, it’s a bit like that.’ Thinking of

the rich comedy potential of agency life, I allowed myself to look

forward to it.



And that - the anticipation, that is - was the only good thing about the

Creatives. Not for a moment could you believe the script had been

anywhere near anyone who actually works in the advertising business

today, whereas the journalist’s equivalent of this show - Drop the Dead

Donkey - manages to brilliantly caricature some of what makes journalism

fun and entertaining. That’s to say, the booze, the brawls, the byline

pinching, the deadlines, and so on. Why, Campaign actually employs a

Gus, a Sally, a Henry and a Joy, whereas I defy any ad agency to produce

staff to match the tedious ’stars’ of the Creatives.



Jack Docherty played Ben, while Moray Hunter played Robbie, joint

writers of an execrable commercial for Paterson’s soup. (It turns out

that they co-wrote the series as well as appearing in it - perhaps

that’s the only way it would ever get acted at all.)



The other characters - from ball-crushing agency producer, Lauren, to

oh-so-pleased-with-himself creative lech, Charlie - were equally

wide-of-the-mark stereotypes, leading one to suppose that if there had

been an advertising industry advisor to the programme makers, it was

white-suited Peter Marsh after a particularly long one at Langans.



Worse than the avalanche of outdated stereotypes and inaccuracies (when

did you last hear a producer utter the words, ’we’ve got to pitch a new

idea to the client’ in mid-shoot?) was the show’s inability to identify

the huge potential for comedy in the process of shooting a commercial.

Why couldn’t the even-more-bloody-pleased-with-themselves Ben and Robbie

be depressive and self-deprecating and bitter and pessimistic like

normal copywriters? Why wasn’t the commercials director given a silly

foreign name and allowed to strop around the set with his personal chef

in tow? And why didn’t the client insist - at the very last minute, of

course - on increasing the time his logo is on screen by a tenth of a

second?



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