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The Detective, the Criminal and the Countryside: the Place of Rural Britain in the Criminal Landscape E.

Anna Claydon (University of Leicester) This work is really at the beginnings of two projects I am working on at the moment: the representation of British rural landscapes across arts and media; and masculinity and the television crime drama.

Land, and therefore landscape, has always been poli ticised because it is viewed territorially as space identified with specific groups. So too has landscape been gendered by people within national spaces as Motherland or Fatherland , anthropomorphised as Mother Earth or represented by metaphorical figures such as Britannia or Masis (the character name for Mount Ararat used in Armenia to represent the national mother) ; or othered by those who have wished to argue for the taking of land, such as Columbus fifteenth-century deification of the Americas a s virgin land and the infantilisation of the native occupants of many spaces needing the firm parental hand of colonialists in lands across the world.

In Britain, these discourses can be seen in the representation of our own lands and non hegemonically dominant peoples; from the dominions of Ireland, Wales and Scotland on a very consciously political level, to the tensions between urban and rural identities and the North/South divide debate d on a more implicitly regional level. In England, the urban typically controls the rural since the ideological subordination of agriculture post-industrial revolution and the South frames the North as beyond the pale still to this day. Stuck in the middle, the Midlands navigates these divides by having a larger prop ortion of small towns and small villages (by comparison with the South and North where there are larger towns and villages) and constructs itself as a border-country (as seen in Shane Meadows Once Upon a Time in the Midlands , for example)... with some of the worst rural public transport in the whole of the UK. Other parts of Britain are also constructed as border -country and can be subject to the same discourses of hinterlands as the seaside town: the extreme South West, East Anglia, the Scottish Highlands and Islands, the remote Yorkshire moorlands, and the Channel Islands... and each of these areas has been used prominently in television programming to represent the other within ourselves, from Doc Martin and Kingdom in

recent years for ITV to All Creatures Great and Small, Bergerac and Hamish MacBeth (all for the BBC) in the 1980s and 90s. What is notable about these representations of other spaces within the national is that they are also p redominantly masculine spaces: but then this is hardly surprising when we consider television drama as a primarily masculine space in which women may have key but nevertheless still subordinate roles to perform narratively or as spectacle. And, given the recent furore and subsequent resignation following the comments of producer Brian True-May concerning the racial profile of the casts in Midsomer Murders, what is also evident is that these other -spaces are representations of British politicised landscapes which exist outside of the contemporary on many levels whilst, in fairness, representing a rural landscape in which whilst non -white faces are seen, racial diversity is factually less evident. Take, for example, two thin gs: the representation of the small-sized town Causton in Midsomer Murders and the age at which most rurally-raised white British children will first encounter someone who is not white. Causton is represented, just like Kingdom s small town and Port Wen in Doc Martin as a community in which non-white characters are absent and where the tensions of the present are represented by commercialism and fashion before politics enters the frame. Meanwhile, in most rural communities, a child will not meet a non -white child until the age of 11, when they go to secondary school and mix with people from more urban areas. As such, this accident of statistics, which reflects that most non-white Britons and immigrant communities reside within urban areas, ends up further em phasising the conceptualisation of the racial other as exotic and it is hardly surprising that one of the stereotypes of rural masculinity is of the ignorant bigot.

In this paper, I examine crime dramas of the 1980s and 1990s and the representation of rural Britain in configuring the criminal landscape as a state of the nation political space on television. This shall be conducted by analysing a specific small but significant element in the construction of rural and class otherness in British televisio n: the correlations between manifestations of regionality and social status exemplified in accent. Key figures within this paper are the shady antiques dealer Lovejoy (East Anglia) and the puritanical Chief Inspector Wycliffe (Cornwall) but I shall also d raw on other figures within the landscape to elaborate upon how the landscape has become figured in these ways.

The framework provided by detective fictions permits the landscape to be represented on television in a way which is both revelatory and immed iately politicised by the very virtue of the representation of rural issues. What television affords, which is specific to the politics of its space, is an engagement with ideas of British -ness which is primarily inwardly focussed: and in the 1980s and 1 990s, this was all the more so as the internationalisation of British television was experiencing growth but had not gained the giddy heights of Inspector Lynley and the Americanisation of British landscape politics as seen in Lewis (which has always navigated the line between tourism and gown and town) and Midsomer Murders (which only rarely ventures outside of its square mileage and when it did, going to Brighton, it was to introduce Tom Barnaby s replacement, John Barnaby as urban versus rural ). Nevertheless, a number of series throughou t the 1980s and 1990s were part-financed by US channels and their influence can also be seen in the characterisation of the rural as frontier.

Earlier, I mentioned that one of the key stereotypes of rural masculinity was the ignorant bigot. Ignorance has played an important part in the representation of the countryside by those outside it, as played out from the early Countryman films, in which the country bumpkin cannot distinguish between f ilm and reality, to the prejudices against South West and East Anglian accents as sounding stupid but friendly in recent studies of responsiveness to accents (for example the 2008 Bath Spa study of accents and perceptions of intelligence). Yet this is also a concept which can be seen in many countries which are dominated by the urban and ideas of accent differentiation being connected to poor education, lack of money and class are reiterated in countries as diverse as the US, Germany and China. In other w ords, this is an idea which translates between cultures but also is specific to each national culture and helps shape concepts of national identity because the precise sounds are purely national. Thus, some, but not many, regional accents, will make their way beyond language and into ideas of representing class within nations to other countries: for example the dodgy Mancunian (generic Northern) accent of Daphne Moon (by Southerner Jane Leeves) in Frasier, the dodgy Cockney accent of her brother (played by Australian actor Anthony LaPaglia) and the Brummy accent disseminated through Ozzy Osborne to the MTV generation. We logically know that accents have nothing to do with intelligence but the fact that accent is used externally to signify poor education, oth erness in

terms of class and potential ignorance is deeply problematic within the politicisation of spaces more generally in television.

Take for example the use of urban accents such as Cockney in rural contexts, be these acted or real. Cockney goes beyond signifying the region from whence a character, usually male, has come, and becomes a mode of profiling someone as, in the phrase The Fast Show used in the 1990s, a little bit whirr and little by wharr risky and potentially an urban criminal

coming into rural spaces. Thus, criminality is being signalled through showing the character to be different in terms of regional identity but also having an un -educated accent. In contrast, the use of an other but educated accented typically (but not alway s) represents a character who is not likely to be criminal.

This simplistic division has also been pursued in representations of the other in factual programming, most notably in the current Channel Four series Love They Neighbour in which couples and families compete for a family home in a Yorkshire community with an aging and conservative population. In many ways it is a classic piece of Channel Four provocateur programming in beginning with an assumption which is commonly held: a) that an older popul ation will be less welcoming of people who are different in any way; b) that village live is old-fashioned and insular; and c) that these things need to be changed for the greater social good. It is an attempt at social manipulation. Of the families and co uples that have come to compete for the cottage, the majority have been represented as other not simply because they are not from Yorkshire (a key choice it seems itself) but also because they are signified through differences in accent as different in cla ss, culture and intelligence. For example, a couple who live in a caravan in Dorset were represented as a cross between travellers and hippies but their middle-class accents meant the programme packaged them as shabby-chic and therefore educated if a little eccentric by comparison with the community into which they came. Meanwhile, a young family from London with prominent South London accents were immediately labelled as lower -class and chav-like and had to demonstrate that they were aspirational quite explicitly and did not represent a risk to the local handy-man who feared his jobs being stolen . The series thus far has shown that stereotypes of rural communities are not entirely true but that they are often a surface level

engagement which, once the surface is scratched, reveals specific social circumstances and variation (for example arising out of village verbal histories and experiences).

Note, however, that this categorising of working-class accents and middle-class accents is not always the case, the educated Southern accent is also used as a mask in a number of situations (for example in Bergerac in which the corruption of the educated rich was a frequent theme) to signal the con -artist. Thus, the accents taken on their own and in preponderance in a representation of the rural spaces on television do not entirely signify a representation of the rural as inherently ignorant but their juxta -positioning against other voices and depending upon the social position of those char acters defines precisely what is being signified: this can be seen being utilised quite explicitly in the BBC TV -Witzend Production from 1986 -1994, Lovejoy.

Lovejoy is set in East Anglia and was hugely popular during its eight year run (despite a five year break between 1986 and 1991) being sold outside the UK and known as The Rules of Art in France. It capitalised on two things: the East Anglian landscape (with frequent sojourns to Cambridge and what became notably formulaic driving around Suffolk countryside crane shots) and the underside of The Antiques Roadshow (another great UK television export). The central cast of characters were: Lovejoy (played by Ian McShane, an antiques dealer and divvy who could feel out antiques but who also skated just on the right side of the law, most of the tim e except when it came to taxes); Eric Catchpole (Chris Jury, the permanently middle-aged apprentice whose market-stall owner father paid Lovejoy to teach his son a trade and who rode a motorbike and side -car which often ended up ferrying Lovejoy around when his car broke down ); Tinker (Dudley Sutton, an older antiques spotter and alcoholic, always smartly attired in three-piece tweed suits); and Lady Jane Felsham (Phyllis Logan, the local aristocrat, who takes Lovejoy under her wing but develops a fondness for him that never quite develops into a romance because she is married from the beginning of the series and sees Lovejoy as something of an over -grown child). In this central group of four only Eric has the regio nal accent and is consistently represented a unintelligent and slow on the uptake of ideas. Only rarely are other characters present with as strong a Suffolk accent and this is usually to signify Eric in his community or Eric finds someone just as stupid as he is . Of Lovejoy, Tinker and Lady Felsham, Scottish actress

Phyllis Logan s aristocratic English accent is as much of a stereotyping as any Hollywood representation of posh and English and her engagement with Lovejoy with its parental indulgence quality ensures that patronage takes on the full complexity of its meaning as a word. Within the physical spaces of Lovejoy this patronage is exemplified from series two onwards by Lovejoy living in a cottage she owns and by her repeatedly driving him around in her Range Rover. Cars are something of a theme in Lovejoy and a reading of masculinity based upon his cars always breaking down could be offered and then dismissed as the point is that getting around Suffolk without a car that works is near -on impossible.

In the recent ITV series Kingdom the same set of linguistic and automotive signifiers are also used to represent Suffolk, with Tony Slattery as an OCD version of Eric with hygiene issues, Sidney. The juxta-positioning of Slattery s fast paced Suffolk delivery against both Stephen Fry and Celia Imrie, who speak very precisely and sound posh by comparison reiterates Sidney s rurality and class but, interestingly, Kingdom has placed Sidney on trajectory of improvement and social education at Celia Imrie (Gloria) s hands which is transformative. However, the regional accent of Sidney in Kingdom is also positioned in contrast to a second regional voice, that of Lyle (Karl Davies trainee lawyer), whose accent is Northern (and Karl Davies previously best known role was in Yorkshire soap Emmerdale). This is an important shift in the politicisation of the voice of the regional other in that, as in the regional cast of Doc Martin, regional accents are being used with increased accuracy to represent both the variety of intellectual identities within an area and movement around countries within the country as a marker of the diversity of national identity and social mobility . However, there is a caveat, the stronger the accent the more insular and less intelligent the character still remains and those without strong accents are also emphasised as being more educated, more travelled and more open-minded. Thus, the criminal is still likely so have a very distinctive aural fingerprint.

This aurality of region is something which the 1990s series Wycliffe also struggled with. Wycliffe ran for five series from 1994-1998 and was made by Harlech Television (the regional channel HTV) and Red Rooster Film and Television Entertainment. Like Lovejoy it too was exported abroad to France but did not have the international success the producers may have hoped for it because, unlike Lovejoy, Bergerac or Hamish MacBeth it was not

exporting a touristic version of rural Britain but a rather more Daphne Du Maurier dark version of Cornish life and death.

Cornwall in Wycliffe really was represented as a hinterland in which just about anything was possible but it was also represented as a space to which criminals fled. In the first episode, for example, The Four Jacks , the lauded local author David Cleeve (played by Bill Nighy) turned out to be a corrupt murderer on the run who morally gets his comeuppance when the brother-in-law of the man he wronged seeks vengeance. It does not surprise the viewer, however, that Nighy s character is corrupt because his corruption is signalle d through his affair with a visiting archaeology student and the fact he does not have a local accent. In Wycliffe being posh and louche usually signifies corruption, from David Cleeve in episode one to Wycliffe (Jack Shepherd s) boss DCC Stevens (Michael Attwell) in the final two series, who attempts to professionally seduce Wycliffe s DI Lucy Lane (Helen Masters) away from her mentor. There is also an element in Wycliffe, however, which questions why the police who are represented are where they are, within this hinterland. Wycliffe has repeatedly rejected promotion and Lane has come from the Metropolitan Police to rural Cornwall. Thus, the landscape represents a place to which people go but rarely a place from which people come (and this is echoed in the comedy-drama Doc Martin, reiterated in the return to Port Wen by romantic interest and teacher Louisa after an attempt to live in London). But to return to the issue of accents in Wycliffe, what is importantly heard is a senior member of the team (DI Kersey, played by Jimmy Yuille) who has a strong Cornish accent and Wycliffe himself has a slight burr. There are two aspects to point out here: one is that Wycliffe s slight accent confirms that television often minimises regional accents to communicate education and class; and the second is that whilst Kersey is a senior officer he is always represented as the impatient, illiberal and ignorant member of the team. Kersey is not ultimately a very good representation of a Cornish character with responsibility wh ilst his more junior mirrors in Doc Martin (admittedly a decade later), PC Mylow (2004 -6) and PC Penhale (2007 to present) are shown to be inexperienced rather than stupid, patient, socially responsible (Kersey is an alcoholic) and willing to learn. Nevert heless, the representation of the police as local figures is important in gradually shifting ideas about the use of accent as a signifier of ignorance and bigotry towards the other and criminals and their pursuers are now far more likely to be represented on television as having the same

(regional accent) or similar (use of colloquialisms and signifiers of class) voices than they were in the past. As such, the investigator is more likely to be represented as integrated into the space and place in which he or she works (for example Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, 1996-8).

Exceptions are still abound in crime dramas, of the investigator who enters the landscape in the style of Sherlock Holmes on Dartmoor or Miss Marple on her country house travels, and this permits a different interrogation of space in which the investigator can experience the places and spaces as a touristic proxy for the audience but what is most notable, as the role of accents shift a little in fictional programming but seems reiterated in factual programming, is that the local identity of the investigator has now begun to go beyond his or her accent and into a near genealogical desire to link the formal or informal detective and the criminal to their placement in the landscape. Thus, in Kingdom the lawyer s family surrounds him; in Midsomer Murders the retired Barnaby is replaced by a Barnaby from down the road in Brighton; and in Lewis the cast have performed as a family in the aftermath of the death of Morse which have created a stylistic and narrative genealogical continuity between the texts.

Thus, in conclusion, I would like to posit these thoughts: rural Britain is still being represented on television through the relationships between the local and the other and accent is still being used, in part, to communicate that dyad; but gradually, and perhaps as a reflection of the changes in the political and social landscape, distinctive accents are being used less frequently to signify ignorance and texts are steadily beginning to experi ment with going beyond local crimes for local people and see the more remote parts of Britain as connected through social mobility both geographically and politically. Even the current side kick in Midsomer Murders, Sergeant Jones, is Welsh and represents the movement between rural communities is the travelling side-kick the bicycle of the British detective genre, spreading the gene pool of regionality? So, to end, I want to return to one of the key observations we all know about the focus of British cin ema studies until the 1990s: it was predominantly focussed on English cinema. However, in British television studies, whilst there has not been the work done in the same detail on Scottish, Irish and Welsh television by comparison, the popularity of Britis h television s drama exports reveals the dynamic

relationship between communicating the British landscape, Britain s constituent national identities and the transferability of the detective drama across national boundaries. I have not, in this paper, discu ssed to any length the hugely popular export Hamish MacBeth but I think it is important to end with an observation about the series: characters with English accents were never to be trusted