October 27: you’ve tidied up, said valiant Achilles

I caught a few minutes of a BBC dramatisation yesterday when I was impatiently waiting for ‘Match of the Day’ to start. It is called ‘Atlantis’ and puts together different stories from the Ancient world in a friendly adventure Saturday-night format. The costumes look good, as ever with these television adaptations and what they call the production values are all fine, but why do they never try and push the dialogue out into a more alien zone. I know they would have spoken Greek, so whatever words are chosen are a compromise anyway, but the dialogue uttered by Pythagoras or Pasiphae or Ariadne make them sound as if they are in a suburban sit-com from the 1970s.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day says some bearskin-clad heavy. Did they really say stuff like that in Ancient Atlantis? I should go, says what looks like a suitor for Ariadne’s hand, as though he were an embarassed public school boy. And best of all: you’ve tidied up, uttered by some proto-Feminist female to some warrior type (male). It just doesn’t work as drama if we are forever being thrust back to our own time. The producers may well claim they want to make it relevant to a modern audience, but if they think anything alien will be rejected by contemporary viewers, why don’t they get Pythagoras and Ariadne to live in a gated community just outside Harpenden. The Persians invaders or whoever are due to turn up later in the series  could be men in hard hats starting work on High Speed Two.


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