Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Time travel

In the previous blog I mentioned anachronisms and since then these stray items from the future have been availing themselves, seemingly, all over the place. And strangely, all of them were for programmes made for ITV. I have nothing against ITV, but I'd be failing in my objectivity if I didn't mention this.

Here are a couple:

One major drama series set in 1952 showed a postcard that, in the story, had been posted almost 20 years before – but the card bore a Queen Elizabeth II postage stamp. The Queen was crowned in 1953. Okay, so if you blinked you missed it, but I would have thought there'd have been enough George V stamps kicking around in philately collections to satisfy the prop requirements. Or, and this is possible, the production assistant concerned didn't know any basic history and probably thinks our Queen Elizabeth has been around since the 1500s. That's probably more likely.

The second instance concerned a drama set in 1945 that had larch-lap fencing panels in the background. Now, so far as I have been able to discover by talking to industry professionals (joinery), this style of fencing was not invented until the 1970s, although a similar style – a form of inter-woven fencing also originally made from long-lasting cedar – was introduced sometime in the 1960s.

Another anachronism from the same episode showed a moulded clear plastic box for storing fishing flies. In 1945 such storage would have been in a box made of wood and with a sliding glass cover – proper glass, that is, not plastic.

You can't blame the writers for this; if every script needed detailed action directions such as:


then screenplays might easily be thick as a Dan Brown novel.

No, preventing such mess-ups is down to someone on the team doing their job properly and thinking more about accuracy and less about alcohol – okay, I'm joking! But someone's attention has been misplaced, maybe even time-warped.

The point is, though, that such mistakes will be there forever.