What narks!



The Coronavirus lockdown gives you time to think. Perhaps too much time. Small mental irritations can become a rash. But making a list of that-which-narks has proved to be a satisfying way to spend half an hour. Here’s my latest list, subject: TV Soaps…but mainly Enders.

Cafés - oh, those tiddly tables. Is there a pi-like formula determining table circumference e.g. Time taken for friendly-but-efficient waitress to wipe a dishcloth over surface x Diameter? Two fry-ups, two slices, two teas plus condiments won’t fit, so you end up with one character having a gippy tummy or being late for their nan’s funeral, in order that only a single meal is ordered.

Exits - when someone leaves a house, the character who shuts the door on them always turns around and leans their back against it. They’re upset/scared/relieved - but wouldn’t they naturally lean forward and rest their forehead on the door? Or even walk away from the horror? I realise the visual cliché allows us to see full-face emotion, but if everyone actually did this, some intrepid manufacturer would have designed a little pull-down seat by now.

Toast - consistently white, sliced and barely buttered. It’s never topped with jam, marmalade or peanut butter. It’s always the scripted opportunity for A. Gesticulation. B. A second character to take a playful bite. C. A third character to steal it. I cannot believe in a world in which neither brown bread nor manners exist.

Childbirth - those poor women never have their babies delivered as planned. They end up squatting in a pub toilet/shed/car park/AA meeting, almost always accompanied by a stranger or an arch-enemy yelling “Breathe!” Couldn’t a bit of drama sometimes be juiced from say, a birthing pool with a slow puncture, rather than this formulaic panic?

Vegetable preparation - seems this can only be done whilst sitting down. The character spreads their utensils, pans, turnips or whatever over a table and gets down to a leisurely peeling and chopping session. Unlike the rest of us who stand, facing the toaster, and get it over and done with as fast as possible. I don’t care that the camera operator can’t squeeze in between actor and cupboard. Let the actor think up some clever way of emoting. Like turning around to speak.

Make-up - the kitchen table is also where a Soap woman does her face. She pulls out a totally insufficient amount of cosmetics from a tiny toiletries bag and squints into a hand mirror, when there is a perfectly good dressing table and a large wall mirror upstairs. It’s not even hygienic.

Hospital - every unfortunate, low-income character arriving at an NHS hospital is always fortunate enough to get a private room. Even with a simple broken arm. I’m aware that such segregation will cut down on hiring extras, but why not just use ward divider curtains for ‘walls’ when a character’s revenge is being plotted? This would simulate real-life excruciation: being forced to overhear the consultant in a neighbouring bay discuss everything from DNRs to bowel movements.