As well as the Scandi-noir and scary crime dramas I watch, I also watch some ‘softer’ series. Actually, I don’t watch that much TV at all, the local news, MasterChef, The Repair Shop, that sort of thing a couple of times a week. I’ve written before about a series I follow based on books by James Runcie – ‘Grantchester’. The main reason is that having been born and grew up in Cambridge, I am very familiar with the real village of Grantchester, just southeast of Cambridge. It was a favourite place to walk beside the river in the meadows there, the river we used to swim in and canoe along. We used to picnic in Grantchester meadows, meeting my aunty and cousins. So watching the TV series gave me a glimpse of not only the village but the meadows and my dear River Granta.
Set in the 1950’s, the storyline is a soft crime/police investigation by a detective inspector and a vicar, the Vicar of Grantchester and it’s now in its sixth series. Although the programme is mainly about the vicar, his relationships, and the people around him, in the investigations of the crimes, there’s a slant towards social issues, for example the way homosexual people were criminalised and treated, unmarried women who became pregnant, the death penalty etc. It’s lightweight, but on the whole well-acted, and easy entertainment.
The latest series started last week,, and in the first episode, the vicar and his housekeeper and her husband, the gay curate and his secret partner went on holiday to a holiday camp! Think Hi-de-Hi, the classic TV programme! As a child I went with my family to The Constitutional Holiday Camp, in Hopton, Norfolk. We went every year until I was about fourteen, and we always had a wonderful time, but good grief – it was very primitive! There were staff who fulfilled the role of the more famous Butlins’ red coats, there were organised competitions like the knobbly knees competition, glamourous grannies, crepe paper hats, fancy dress – but the chalets were the most basic concrete huts, no running water apart from a basin and a cold tap – it was cheap, it was cheerful, and it offered a holiday at an affordable price t people without a lot of money coming in.
Seeing the holiday camp in ‘Grantchester’ it looked ultra luxurious compared to the reality of the 1950’s! I’m not complaining, it’s a fiction after all, but it did make me look back on those very happy holidays with a smile!