onsdag 27 maj 2015

Reasons to be cheerful

Where did May go? Weather-wise and workload-wise, it has been more like a grey September than the height of spring. Furthermore, my Downton withdrawal symptoms have reached the point where watching old episodes only makes the agony worse. But it's wrong to be glum when there are quite a few things to be happy about.

Firstly, Sweden won Eurovision! I'm extra glad as I have a soft spot for the singer Måns Zelmerlöw, who comes from my neck of the woods (but no, we're not acquainted). He's a great performer and, as various interviews have proved, relentlessly charming under pressure. True, he has sung catchier tunes than "Heroes" - if you ever hear "Cara Mia", you won't be able to get it out of your head for a week - but it's a good, solid song for all that. And girls, just so you know - Måns isn't gay, or wasn't last time I looked in a gossip mag, anyway.

Commiserations to the Brits, but I'm afraid "I'm Still In Love With You" had two flaws that are absolute Eurovision poison - it was arch and contrived. Try sincerity next time. If it's any consolation to the British (and knowing them, it will be) France and Germany did even worse - Germany and the hosting country Austria both got nul points. In Germany's case, the failure was deserved, though I still feel sorry for the German singer who, by virtue of being just the runner-up in the national competition (the winner shamefully dropped out), was put in what Victorian novels would call a "false position". There was nothing wrong with France's power ballad, however, which only proves that yes, Eurovision can be unfair. At least the points are decided by telephone voting and juries now, which should be good news for those quite-nice-but-not-winner-songs.

A second reason for happiness is the rumours about a new costume drama on BBC, featuring Dickens characters - yes, characters from different Dickens novels interacting with each other! Does this mean that there are more people out there who spend their time constructing dream scenarios where, say, Ralph Nickleby and Miss Havisham discuss love and betrayal or Carker, as member of a special Dickensian villain club, tries to chat up Miss Wade while being served drinks by Littimer? OK, so other people's Dickens fantasy scenarios may be a little less villain-populated than that, but it's immensely cheering all the same that I'm not alone harbouring thoughts like these. I'm not certain that this series will have a very large audience, but the audience it does have - including me - is sure to love it. Most of us will feel a pang of envy towards the lucky scriptwriter, though. I've never forgiven the BBC for axing their Dombey and Son adaptation, but if Carker makes an appearance in this series, I will at least consider it.

Meanwhile, I hear ITV will broadcast a series about the early life of Queen Victoria. What with the TV series Victoria and Albert and, later, the film The Young Victoria, this is not untrodden ground in costume-drama land. It sounds promising even so, especially as the scriptwriter is Daisy Goodwin, who wrote the page-turning historical novels My Last Duchess and The Fortune Hunter. It appears there will be life after Downton. Maybe.