I’m so pleased to see Scott and Bailey are back tonight for a second series. For those not in the know, S and B are, sort of, Manchester’s answer to Cagney and Lacey. I don’t remember an awful lot about the original Cagney and Lacey – I just remember being surprised and pleased that they were both ladies and seemed to have a life outside shooting people. As I had two brothers, I grew up watching cowboy films, war films, Starsky and Hutch, James Bond, the A-Team and all the rest.
Actual employed females, apart from Charlie’s Angels (who didn’t really do anything apart from wear frilly clothes and tons of blusher) were a novelty. Occasionally, there would be a girl in a cowboy film, but she’d usually be a hooker doing the can-can in the saloon, or maybe a ‘respectable’ woman in a dowdy frock and grey bonnet, clinging on to her cowboy’s leg as he dumped her in the dust to do what a man’s got to do. There were sometimes women in Starsky and Hutch but they were usually dead junkies, and as for Bond girls – apart from the nudies cavorting in the titles, and a heroine waiting to be bedded, there wasn’t much doing there.
I suppose, at the time, I thought that when I was grown up, all that would change. After all, we had a woman Prime Minister. Women could, and did, work and achieve stuff without the blusher and the leg-clinging.
Yet what do I find, now I’m here in grownupland? As I wrote in the summer, I am sick to death (pun intended) of watching male serial killers prey on women, and male detectives hunt them down. Most of the drama shows commissioned at the moment seem to be detective based, and in the vast majority of them, women are being shown as helpless victims, and then dying in grisly fashion. It’s unhealthy. It means I don’t want my daughters to watch TV in the evenings. And it’s blimmin boring, too.
So thank goodness for foreign programmes like The Killing, Homeland and Borgen, with intriguing, driven women characters. They are getting huge audiences, and it’s no surprise to me. I can’t be the only woman who doesn’t relish sitting down to another male-dominated killing spree in the evening. Three cheers for Call the Midwife and its record-breaking ratings. And hooray for Scott and Bailey, interesting women, doing a good job, and having lives as well. Go for it, girls.