Friday, January 14, 2011

Inspiration from daytime tv

I don't know about anyone else but I very rarely watch daytime tv - I don't have the time, plus it's usually crap. Just occasionally, though, you catch something that just screams 'story' because of the human element/emotions involved.

This morning I saw 'Wanted Down Under' which is a property programme for Brits wanting to move to Australia. Apparently loads of them just pack up and go out there on a whim; this programme does at least take them out there for a week, show them the sort of property they could afford, jobs that are available, living costs etc etc. A bit of a reality check, in other words, while making good telly.

Today's 'subject' was a 40-ish bloke from Sheffield who had a lifetime dream of moving to Oz. He had a 16 year old son from a previous marriage and was remarried to a nice lass; they had two small children. The lass clearly thought the world of him, but he came across (whether in reality or by skillful editing) as a selfish bastard. The lass didn't want to move at all; she had loads of friends and family in the UK and didn't want to leave them behind. He was quite happy to leave everyone behind - including his 16 year old son.

The week went from one disaster to another. Their UK house was valued at a good £50k less than they thought it was worth, so they'd struggle to afford a similar property in Oz, let alone the 4 bed with swimming pool he wanted. He'd have had to take a lower responsibility job with a pay cut; and to afford the lifestyle she'd have had to work too. That was fine with him, even though she didn't want to because of the kids.

By the end of the show it was obvious that emigrating was pretty much the worst thing they could do. The couple were interviewed separately and she said that much as she hated the idea, she would do it for him because 'at the end of the day he was the most important thing in her life'. When they interviewed HIM, he said that if he chose Oz and she chose England, they would talk it over a lot and then he would get his own way, 'simple as that'. But if worst came to worst, they would split up.... Whether she ever saw those comments, and what happened if she did, wasn't made clear.

When I'm writing my crime/noir stories I sometimes wonder if they're a bit unrealistic, but watching this you realise that there are little tragedies going on behind closed doors all over the country and writing about dark, selfish people is actually a lot more realistic than you might think.


Bill Kirton said...

I don't watch much tv anyway, Fiona, but this is a nasty little apercu. And your final paragraph is spot on, too. It's a sad fact but there are some pretty bleak truths lurking behind otherwise comfortable-looking exteriors.

Fiona Glass said...

It's the old 'behind the net curtains' thing, isn't it? In the old days all those little tragedies would have remained hidden away but with so much kiss-and-tell in the media they're becoming more and more obvious...