I can’t help it. After a life steeped in television, even the most profound and far-reaching convulsions in society end up refracted and viewed through my own TV prism.
During the past few volcanic weeks, a darkly complex saga of lies, corruption, crime, quislings, bent journalism, weasel words, outraged stars of light comic films, traduced reputations and the potential destruction of a dynasty has emerged, one that makes The Shadow Line look like Scott & Bailey.
Anyone with any television hinterland must have played the Fantasy Casting Game during hour after mesmerising hour of captivating TV coverage as big, influential people grappled to hold on to power as their careers imploded in the phone hacking scandal. (I must stress that I write this with the utmost respect for Milly Dowler, the blameless teenage girl robbed of her life and the victim of people without conscience to deny her dignity in death.)
EVERYTHING has unfolded on television, and everything and everyone has fitted into a TV Drama and Possibly Even Comedy Template. This ragged affair could be a mini-series, rather than a frightening close-quarters examination of a rotten system.
If I were a casting director, these would be my suggestions: some real, some fictional.
The whole of New Scotland Yard
Of course, it’s Mad Men in there. Powerful men in suits have powerful meetings with other powerful men in suits in well-appointed offices. So that makes former assistant commissioner, the dapper John Yates, Don Draper, while his erstwhile boss, Sir Paul Stephenson, is the decent Bert Cooper who quit when the modern world overtook him.
Former top cop Andy Hayman
His shouty repugnance at an MP’s suggestion that he took bungs from New International makes him Gene Hunt, obviously.
Deputy assistant commissioner of the Met, Sue Akers
Formidable, quietly-spoken policewoman who must make sense of the whole mess. She’s Sarah Lund from The Killing.
Before he made his appearance in front of the parliamentary committee: Junior Soprano. After his appearance before the parliamentary committee: Compo from Last of the Summer Wine.
Niles Crane from Frasier. I don’t have to say any more, do I?
Ellen Parsons from Damages. All wide-eyed and innocent-looking but up to her neck in Bad Things, even if it transpires none of them is of her own making.
Chris Bryant, the MP who broke the scandal
Daniel Craig. We all know why.
Robert Peston, the BBC’s scarily well-briefed business editor
Brian Griffin, the sage talking dog from Family Guy. Though I am certain that Peston does not, like Brian, fart himself awake of a morning.
Paul McMullen, ex-News of the World journalist
He has to play himself because he is the pitch-perfect archetype of a sweaty hack.
David Cameron’s former spin wonk must be played by David Morrissey. It’s the glasses that do it. And State of Play.