Review of Servants in The Observer
Whatever, I watched the very enjoyable first episode of the new BBC six-parter, Servants (which featured the servants kicking a marble god) just after I'd witnessed, live, that footage of the Iraqis dancing on the fallen statue of Saddam in Firdouz Square. And now I know there is no greater insult in the Arab world than to reveal your soles, I understand why I got such wildly unimpressed looks from the locals when I rested my puffy, pregnant ankles on a coffee table while in transit through a Middle Eastern airport last year. You learn so much watching the news, don't you? But, admittedly, rarely the stuff you're looking to learn (or, in the case of BBC News 24's war coverage, never the stuff you're looking to learn).
Anyway, Servants is good fun - a below-stairs soap in which all the Victorian period details are juxtaposed with dialogue so carbolic sharp and fresh it would have been entirely out of place in 40 . Written by Lucy Gannon, it stars the excellent Joe Absolom as George Cosmo, a young footman on the make, Orla Brady as the housekeeper, Christopher Fulford as the butler and a bunch of other attractive, talented young actors who might otherwise have had to slum it in Emmerdale .
There's definitely an audience for Servants , especially if it maintains its current racy pace. I particularly enjoyed the overstyled, smocked-and-gaitered shepherd, accessorised by just the two sheep (one black, one white), who, as he explained to Absolom, was paid to stand around in sight of the Big House: 'It's the Master's idea of a pastoral idyll, innit. Wanker.'