But now, poor old Bartlett has had to hand over his latest six-part series to be critiqued by the very people who come under fire in the show, and who absolutely, definitely know more about the inner workings of a newsroom than its creator. Mmmm. We wonder how it’ll be received.
Well, think of it this way. If Bodyguard had to go through the Met’s Specialist Protection Office before release, or ER was scrutinised by the A&E department of St. George’s hospital, we’d all be laughing at how batty and teeth-grindingly unrealistic the whole thing is, too.
Certainly Press has its moments of madness. How likely is it, really, that owner of the tabloid paper The Post – a badly disguised, shady Rupert Murdoch figure – would be pressing his ‘well-oiled’ editor (Ben Chaplin) for real journalism and be unconcerned with sales?
Or that the deputy news editor of The Post’s lefty rival paper The Herald (Charlotte Riley) would be lumbered with giving some horrid celebrity a tour of the building? She might have some stuff to be getting on with, you know?
And worst of all, that the journalists all take their sweet time laying up beautiful papers rather than just bashing news stories out as quickly as their arthritic fingers will carry them, to be the first to have their story break online.
But, really, who cares? Bartlett gives us deep, thoughtful characters who are either pushing their morality to its very limits (tabloid journalists) or throwing themselves with enthusiasm into the pursuit of justice (scruffy Guardian-style 'proper-news' journalists). And between these two opposing, formidable institutions, there's fraternisation and plotting, making the whole thing feel a bit like Romeo and Juliet.
Underneath all the hysteria, there's a nugget of truth. The gleefully manipulative tabloid editors taking distasteful pleasure in skewering uppity MP’s with their past mistakes feel like Piers Morgan in his kinder moments, our morose and lonely protagonist (Charlotte Riley’s Holly Evans) could be your housemate, and the surrounding cast of oddballs and weirdos and go-getters are exactly the kind of people who would stock newsrooms. Even if journalists don’t like to admit it.
BBC Press release date: September 6
|What||Press, BBC One review|