National Treasure’s Tim McInnerny: ‘Using violence against women to get viewing figures isn’t right’

The veteran actor and star of Channel 4 drama National Treasure praised the likes of Broadchurch for sensitively handling the topic of rape on television – but said that not all dramas handle the topic quite so sensitively

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Tim McInnerny has criticised the portrayal of violence against women in some TV shows.

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Speaking to RadioTimes.com and other press, McInnerny said that some programmes on TV “pretend to criticise violence and particularly violence against women, and then use it to get viewing figures. That’s not right.”

However, the star of Channel 4’s National Treasure added that some dramas confronted sexual assault with more delicacy, saying that ITV drama Broadchurch was an example of how to handle a rape storyline sensitively.

“I thought the way they dealt with the rape from the beginning was a revelation,” he said of Broadchurch, which stars Julie Hesmondhalgh as survivor Trish Winterman. “I thought it was really really good. They did it extremely sensitively – I think it’s important. That’s got to change on television.”

Commenting on the way in which his series National Treasure dealt with the fictionalised account of a famous celebrity being accused of rape, McInnerny said: “We didn’t want to show any [violence] because that’s not what it’s about. You suddenly start showing rape, then you’re complicit in making it unpleasant, I think, on television progammes. I personally think it showed enough.”

The veteran actor starred as Karl Jenkins in the three-part Channel 4 show alongside Julie Walters, and said he had no doubts about being involved with the programme, despite the sensitive topic of the drama in which a much-loved comedian is accused of historic sexual crimes.

“I thought the subject matter was important,” he said. “I thought it was something that needed to be dealt with and needed to be dealt with in that extraordinary way that Jack [Thorne] wrote it.

“If it had been something just trying to hang on the coat tails on it, I wouldn’t have been interested. That would have been very dodgy. But this was very different to that and it’s just as much about the way it reverberates in other peoples’ lives and fractures families and friendships and all that as it is about the Yewtree inquiry.”

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McInnerny, who is starring in ITV Encore’s Harlots, an adaptation of Stephen Fry’s book The Hippopotamus, as well as JK Rowling’s Silkworm, said of the reaction to National Treasure: “To have great viewing figures and be well accepted not just by critics but by the general public is wonderful.”