Crime on television can roughly be divided into the evil and the naughty, both of which come in all scales from major to petty. Evil crime is what you get on Wire in the Blood and The Bill, easily identifiable as such when it involves decapitating young girls and planting their heads in a municipal flowerbed but no less evil when it's a matter of an addict stealing an old man's baccy money for his next fix. With evil crime, you spend quite a lot of time with the victims, watching them weep and absorb the blow. Naughty crime, on the other hand, is what you get in comedies, and it can range from bullion raids to minor burglary, the important consideration being that any GBH occurs off screen and that you rarely see the victim, if at all, and that if you do, they are either greedy corporate types or monsters of social-climbing hypocrisy. Honest, which involves a lot of naughty crime, began by delivering a modest twist on this rule, with two scally burglars finding themselves face to face with a diminutive Chinese granny: "What you going to do?" said one of them as she adopted a crouching-tiger stance. "Throw your bus pass at me?" At which point, she unleashed the hidden tiger and nearly hospitalised him. So, sub-clause 1, you can see the victims provided that they show no signs whatever of having been victimised.
One of the burglars was Vin Carter, following in his father's footsteps as a career criminal. We first encountered his Dad, Mack, as a mere bulge in a duvet, getting in one last conjugal encounter before departing for another spell inside, and interspersing his lovemaking with practical notes on upcoming council-tax payments and plumbing problems. Coitus was then interrupted by the arrival of DS Bain, such a frequent visitor to the Carter household that he knows where the coffee cups are kept and feels entitled to help himself to milk from the fridge. He's also on first-name terms with everyone else in the house, from Lindsay, Mack's exasperated wife, to Kacie the wannabe glamour model and Lianna, who spends most of her time at the local video shop planning a career as a film director. Completing the family is Vin's sensible twin brother, Taylor (also played by Matthew McNulty), who is just about to graduate as a lawyer, and Grandpa Carter, who burned down his own house so that he could get some company.
All of them are up to something, even the upright Taylor, who got his job through a minority-advancement programme after pretending to be a Muslim, a deception shored up by the occasional appearance of his sister in a burqa. But it's all studiously naughty: "This family does what it needs to to get by... that does not include dealing drugs," said Lindsay furiously when she discovered that Vin had been on the trail of some Triad heroin (firmly the wrong side of the evil/naughty divide). It's a line that asks for your sympathy rather than your condemnation, but conveniently brushes aside the fact that quite a few of her neighbours were finding it harder to get by because Vin kept nicking their electrical equipment. Anyway, for reasons that aren't entirely clear – but that probably have something to do with opening up some clear blue water between this and Shameless – Lindsay decided that the whole family were going to have to go straight. James Griffin and Jack Williams's script has its sprightly moments, mostly when it drops below the waist, but the busyness of the opening episode and its slightly frantic over-supply of potential plot developments and character eccentricity mean that it doesn't feel solidly confident yet.
In How Pop Songs Work, Charles Hazlewood took the back off a number of pop hits and poked around in their inner workings to see what made them tick. As a musical illiterate, I love this kind of thing: someone sitting at a piano and telling you exactly why it is that your heart gives a little lurch when some pop classic shifts from B minor to D major ("Knowing Me, Knowing You", if you're curious, and an explanation of how an incredibly depressing lyric still manages a faint air of uplift on the chorus). What musical literates would make of it, I'm not sure, since it demands a very easygoing eclecticism, in which a Girls Aloud track might be called in to illustrate lyrical excellence.
If you're hoping to write a pop hit yourself and are looking for tips, the best they offered was to keep it short and keep it memorable, which may strike you not so much as a tip as a statement of the obvious. Hazelwood also celebrated several hit songs that completely ignored the rules and did their own thing, which reduced the make-your-own-at-home utility even further. But it was still a pleasure to watch him doing the dissection – the Gunther von Hagens of the song you can't stop singing.Reuse content