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Corona Diaries: what does this man have in common with Donald Trump and Howard Hughes?

May 18, 2020

A couple of nights ago an extraordinary thing happened. There we were, watching our favourite Italian TV series, and downloading the next series, when a little message appeared on the information screen. This programme will be deleted at 12am on 15th May. Sure enough, at 11pm, all the new stuff plus a whole bunch of other content disappeared in front of our eyes.

It was as if an electronic hand had reached down our satellite dish and zapped half of our downloads. I felt violated. Not in the same way as if a real burglar had been through the house, but I was still left thinking how dare you? You could at least have left the stuff we downloaded even if you removed it from your bloody channel.

On further reflection, I imagine what happens is that each download has a time-triggered auto-destruct code. But that doesn’t explain why the channel – Walter Presents on All 4 – has other stuff that seems of have been around much longer. Something to do with the licence agreement with the production company, perhaps.

Anyway, I’m extremely pissed off with Walter, who is a nerdish character of indeterminate origin with the look of a frightened rodent. To give him his due, he still has some stuff worth watching, but from now onwards, I will never be sure that what we download won’t suddenly disappear mid-series in a puff of smoke.

Another problem with Walter is that you have to download each episode individually rather than by series. Not only that, but you only know which episode and which series the episode belongs to once you’ve done the download, so you risk clogging up your box’s hard drive with stuff you’ve already. And episodes seem to appear in random order in amongst stuff from other series.

So I’m beginning to see him as bandit disguised as a hamster. A bit like our beloved politician Michael Gove, in fact.

Anyway, Walter has graciously left in place one of our favourite series of the moment, which fits into the strange category of “light-hearted murder”. Other members of the species include shows like Killing Eve, in which we’re supposed to be amused by the creative ways in which Villanelle manages to dispatch her victims. Then there’s NCIS, which has a grinning pathologist who surveys the crime scene with unashamed glee, and makes silly jokes while filleting bodies on the slab.

But Professor T is different, and perfect for the age of coronavirus. He’s a Belgian criminology professor who gets called in by the local murder squad to help them solve a new murder each week. His unique selling proposition is that he’s autistic. He sees things that his colleagues don’t see, and solves crimes that leave them floundering. He has a ghastly mother who makes the occasional appearance, a psychiatrist whom he drives demented, and a romance that isn’t a romance with the head of the murder squad.

His most obvious eccentricity is his obsession with anti-bacterial wipes and sprays, which he applies every time anyone comes near him. His colleagues at the university are well used to him, and religiously wipe the door handle when they leave his office. They include the long-suffering dean who recognises his brilliance. He does his utmost to indulge his employee while sheltering him from the less tolerant members of faculty. The professor also has hallucinations, which usually involve other characters in unusual scenarios. The whole thing’s a blast. On a more serious note, it’s good to see people with autism, and their rare talents, taking centre stage in a TV series.

Life isn’t always easy for the good professor, though. He’s full of phobias, one of which is about public transport. The irony is that someone wearing surgical gloves having a meltdown on a bus would nowadays appear quite normal.

I haven’t forgiven Walter, but I thank him for Professor T, who ranks alongside Donald Trump and Howard Hughes as one of the great germophobes. What a pity Trump isn’t a fictional character as well. Walter would be welcome to delete him.

From → Film, Media, UK

One Comment
  1. deborah a moggio permalink

    your “upset” (mildest word I could come up with) shows in your grammar.
    So sorry you were jigged around!

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