Downton Abbey isn't the greatest thing I've ever seen on TV, but I've been enjoying it in a relaxed rather than jumping-up-and-down sort of way. Along with 9.2 million other people, it seems - or maybe that should be 9.2 million minus one. Some have found the series predictable, familiar (£), clichéd; and I'm in no position to quarrel with these judgements. It's all of that. But while ground-breaking drama, drama that is not predictable or any of those other things, is often to be admired and applauded, it would of course be fallacious to infer from this that only the unpredictable and unfamiliar can be pleasing or worth our time. We all have some taste for the predictable, otherwise we wouldn't listen again to music that we love. We'd want a sudden passage of Nirvana (or even the sound of massed lawn mowers) inside a late Beethoven quartet. We'd want 'Good Vibrations' to take an unexpected turn.
Anyway, as always in these matters, to each his or her own. However, I do think exception is to be taken to this additional complaint against Downton Abbey, levelled in today's Times (£) by Sathnam Sanghera. It is that...
... part of the attraction of Downton Abbey, at least on a subliminal level, is that it is almost entirely darkie-free.
Even allowing that among 9.2 million viewers there must be some of whom Sanghera's speculation - for that is all it is - is true, I would say that this is an ungrounded slander against, at least, some millions of them. He just knows (does he?) that most or much of this vast audience would like the programme less should a character be featured in it who was black. Must we, then, also think that most of those 9.2 million viewers are also enjoying Downton Abbey because so far it contains no Jews? Sanghera here comes up with an empty piece of attitudinizing.