Screen Life: Radio 3 is tackling noise pollution. Cough sweets wrapped in special waxed paper will be handed out at future concerts

Crunchy sweetie wrappers ruin many a poignant cinematic moment. In fact, anyone who is going to see this week's release of Contact, the new Jodie Foster space movie, would be wise to check who's eating what in the seat behind them before they sit down. Any ruffling feedbag will definitely take the edge off this engaging drama. After all, it's about one woman's mission to hear extraterrestrial life - not see it, smell it or, God forbid, shoot it. Contact isn't your typical noisy sci-fi alien fest: other people's sweet tooths shouldn't spoil yet another consummate Foster performance for you.

At least Radio 3 is tackling noise pollution. Cough sweets wrapped in special waxed paper will be handed out at future Radio 3 concerts. Hence, there will be no more signs of annoying life in any future live broadcasts.

Good move on their part. But why aren't the big cinema chains following suit? Even better, why has any venue in the history of cinema ever allowed noisy plastic food bags on their premises in the first place? Did they expect the organist to drown out the ear-splitting sound of a humbug wrapper? Nothing could do that. Not even a sonic boom. I bet you could stand in the middle of Tesco's on Saturday, open a humbug and find that everyone heard it - even the guy way back at the wet fish counter.

Turns out the folks at Virgin Cinemas have thought about this problem and, until recently, encouraged people to consume quiet things - like squiggly jelly snakes and gobstoppers from their scoop-a-sweetie section. According to Virgin Cinema spokesperson, Liz Emerson, it was only recently that Virgin Cinemas (all 127 screens of 'em) started selling the noisier Caramel Swirls and the really quite lovely if a bit audible Mars Celebrations which, at least, have a snippet in their wrappers for ease of entry. (The Nestle people were incredibly snotty and didn't think this was their problem...)

Although it may be too anally retentive to register for quieter cinema confectionery, a spokesperson at Mars says that when it comes to quietude in the cinema, considerate people should opt for Opal Fruits which are probably the quietest snack in that environment. Next on the scale come Maltesers and M&Ms, then popcorn and the dreaded last slurp of Coca-Cola.

This is a small problem, certainly. After all, most of the goodies consumed in public cinemas are eaten during the trailers - or maybe I'm the only one who can finish a head-sized bucket of popcorn in under two minutes flat. But if we can solve the noisy sweetie wrappers issue, it is one small step towards solving the crying-baby-on-the-aircraft issue...

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