I confess: I have a soft spot for ITV3, the ‘resting’ place of the elderly viewer. I love Endeavour, Foyle’s War, Inspector Morse and Lewis. Big fan of PD James’ and Ruth Rendell’s work in print and on screen. Not a fan of Midsomer Murders.
Living (temporarily) with an octogenarian makes me think a lot about the elderly. Not all old people fit into a stereotype, of course. Many are offbeat, fiery, questioning, and open-minded. But the Brexit vote has also made me think about other older people, especially the Daily Express reading contingent. I am brought into contact daily with this filthy rag
Why is it that older people love detective dramas of the type I have listed? My thoughts:
- They are very British. English countryside, British actors. English towns and villages. English cars, mostly. Suits. Hats even!
- Easily identified characters. Idiosyncratic but not too weird, e.g., Morse.
- Old people seem to love characters who come in pairs (Lewis and Hathaway). The ‘buddy’ element.
- Often set in the past – or a present that doesn’t really exist (Midsomer Murders) caters to nostalgia factor plus sense that ‘things were better back then’.
- Crime dramas – very black and white in that there are good people and bad ones.
- Resolution. The bad guys are always caught, I think. Order is restored. All’s right with the world.
When age, infirmity and looming death/meeting one’s maker are on the cards, ironically, these murderous dramas offer a sense of safety and familiarity plus a chance to be indignant at the ‘goings-on’ (moral judgements) and behaviour of the ‘bad’ characters. It’s my belief that old people (some, not all, I must stress) do not like ambiguity and these reruns on ITV3 serve as a comforter.