A spot of woman-killing to start the week
As if Eleanor's gender wasn't enough of a problem she also has dangerous new ideas - suggesting, for instance, that surgical removal of the ovaries might not be the best cure for mild depression, particularly as the mortality rate is around 50 per cent. Pish and nonsense, blusters Sir Herbert (Robert Hardy, whose very voice is side-whiskered). He presses on with his scalpel. Result: a geyser of blood, crimson swabs thudding moistly to the floorboards, and a theatre full of medical students cheering derisively as the patient expires on the table. I had my doubts about the last detail, to put it mildly, but it obviously didn't go quite far enough for writer Lucy Gannon. "Dinner? Why not?" says one of the departing students as Eleanor leans wanly against the wall. Ah yes, nothing like spot of woman-killing to get a chap's gastric juices flowing.
Like Sunday night's The Hanging Gale, Bramwell blends a stern bit of consciousness-raising with the forms of popular television. This is not a bad thing in my view, even if some lines sound as if they have little footnote numbers attached to them. "The blankets are washed every month," says a nurse indignantly, after being ticked off for leaving a wound unbandaged (Advances in Hygiene 1895-1906, pp 154-163); "Gin and laudanum", explains a colleague as one of Eleanor's patients sings merrily while she clips three of his toes into an enamel bucket (Numb: A Brief History of Anaesthesia, p 64).
Naturally, this being television and not academic history, there is a danger of simplification. If the medical world is the unmediated swamp of male stupidity depicted here, where does Bramwell get her advanced ideas from? Not feminine intuition, I hope. The drama is also distinctly obliging to Eleanor, supplying her with a feisty patroness (Michelle Dotrice) who can fund her slum infirmary after she is banned from the hospital, and an amiable father (David Calder) who knocks out music-hall hits on the piano when things threaten to get dour. But such gripes are swiftly alleviated without the need for surgery; just contemplate the alternative three times a day before meals - popular drama with no ambitions.
When Cynthia Weil, the songwriter, complained to her lawyer about his bills, he replied: "But I don't make money while I'm sleeping." This is the dream an enduring hit represents - an untiring and unstoppable money- machine, like a melodic oil-well. Weil's lawyer isn't the only one who wants a slice of the profits, as The Music Biz (BBC2) revealed. As well as exploring the curious alchemy of song and singer ("Did Madonna make the song, or did the song make Madonna?" they asked, after talking to the writers of "Like a Virgin"), Gina and Jeremy Newson had also come up with a cautionary tale - that of Herman Santiago and Jimmy Merchant, who helped write "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?" but failed to protect their intellectual property from cruising predators.
At the time of filming, the song had notched up 2,189,093 radio plays, each earning up to $75. Some of which will no doubt pay Herman and Jimmy's lawyer for successfully restoring their copyright.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
- 2 Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
- 3 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
- 4 News agency criticised for describing Amal Clooney as 'actor's wife' in coverage of human rights trial
- 5 David De Gea to Real Madrid: Real finally get their man with £29m bid for Manchester United goalkeeper
X Factor hopeful Mason Noise: 'How is Cheryl Fernandez-Versini in the music business, let alone a judge?'
Game of Thrones season 6: Director promises most exciting premiere yet 'starts off with a bang'
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Online toy marathon to launch new film
Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet: Technician quits after social media row with actor's fans
Evian Christ cancels Reading festival appearance after being 'trapped in a cage' at Leeds by staff
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up