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Peter Rhodes on vizor advice, a dramatic taboo and the rise and fall of a history man

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Swatted – David Starkey

Vizor advice. Nothing inspires confidence among customers quite like staff wearing anti-virus vizors. So long as you are dealing face-to-face, the vizor deflects any contaminated breath safely downwards. But what if the vizor-wearer is standing upright and the customers are lying on their backs, having their hair washed in a basin?

Take a close look at some of the footage of hairdressers back at work, shampooing. See how the vizor deflects their breath into the face of the customer?

Thankfully, hairdressers have been instructed to keep conversation to a minimum. That shouldn't be too difficult, given that their traditional opening gambit is: “Been away yet?” and most of us haven't been away for ages. Even so, it might be useful, before visiting the salon, to make a little button badge: “Not since last August.”

It may turn out that coronavirus has nothing to do with insanitary food markets, animal smuggling or boffins mucking about with viruses they can't control. Yet don 't we all suspect this pandemic has somehow been caused by human wickedness? As one emailer puts it: “I feel that Mother Nature has sent us all to our rooms for being naughty.”

So farewell, David Starkey. The TV historian, sometimes described as “waspish,” has been swatted. Discussing slavery on an online channel, he denied that slavery was genocide “otherwise there wouldn't be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain, would there?” God knows what the 75-year-old was thinking but he was immediately dumped by the universities of Cambridge and Canterbury and sacked from the Mary Rose Trust. He can probably kiss goodbye to any future BBC or ITV jobs. Starkey, the author of 20 books and presenter of a dozen TV series, has given us millions of erudite words, apparently without learning that it can take only one little world to bring you crashing down. I bet he's thinking it today: damn, damn, damn.

Telly dramas are usually better without advert breaks. But the supernatural yarn The Luminaries (BBC1) is an exception. It is set in two times. An advert break would help you keep your bearings but if you leave the room during the action, you have no idea, on returning, whether this is now or nine months ago.

The Luminaries continues to push back the frontiers of an old TV taboo. Until recently, miscarriages were merely hinted at in dramas. Now, first in Fleabag and again in The Luminaries, they are dealt with graphically. As directors push the bounds, expect worse to come. I wonder how many women, carrying their own terrible memories, would prefer not to be reminded.

So how are you enjoying your first pint of draught Guinness in a pub since lockdown began? Faced with that question from a TV reporter in Chester, the customer answered brightly: “I've missed this more than my missus when she left.” If you think the Guinness is well chilled, wait until he and his ex have their next encounter . . . .

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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