Guilty Pleasure: Louise Chunn On ITV's 'Secret Smile'

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The Independent Online

Because I work on a fashion magazine, I can't do what normal people do when they come home and they've had a stressful day - light a fag, put their feet up and look through a fashion magazine. So I look in the London Evening Standard every night on my way home to see if there's an ITV two-part "women in peril" number.

I'm happily snobbish in my own way about television. There's high and low art in there. But my interest in these ITV two-part dramas (such as Secret Smile and Walk Away and I Stumble) is subterranean. It's not just low; it's kind of nasty. I'm a feminist who used to edit the women's pages of The Guardian. The reality of domestic violence and rape and being stalked is horrendous, and I take it very seriously. Yet, for some reason, I cannot resist a psychopath in the basement and girl saying, "What's that noise?". I love it.

The plots are so unlike life: cut-out women, never taking any notice of danger, and psychopaths. Someone they once looked at across a café has been stalking them for the last three years and they've only just realised.

I do know the difference between these shows and the original Prime Suspects. They were all "women in peril", too, but they were about Helen Mirren, a proper person.

The plots of the two-parters are always labyrinthine, and not just faintly ridiculous, totally ridiculous. But I still tune in the following night to find out who kills whom.

Louise Chunn is the editor of InStyle magazine