Confessions of a Secretary, TV review: The "good old days" were in fact nothing of the kind

 

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The Independent Culture

After doctors owning up to getting their mistresses off-the-books abortions and coppers to smashing skulls, it was time for Britain's secretaries to get things off their chests in Channel 4's rather good Confessions series.

This was a look back at the Mad Men-y age of the Sixties and Seventies, a time when secretaries would have their hemlines measured from the floor and men with busy hands could maintain positions of power without the pesky Protection from Harassment Act of 1997 getting in the way.

It's been odd watching this series, which manages to just – just – maintain a distance critical enough to acknowledge that the "good old days" were in fact nothing of the kind. In fact, if it wasn't for Mad Men, The Hour et al, to this viewer it would be like watching a documentary from a parallel universe. (Though, one should note, that on Monday, research from Girlguiding UK reported that 60 per cent of girls and young women report being harassed, so plus ça change...)

As Jacqui recounted the story of getting spanked (spanked!) over her boss's lap in an office, she mused to herself – "It wasn't like the real world, was it? If you think about it now it seems incredible." The past is a foreign country, of course, but perhaps not foreign enough.

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