WORDS Grant Runyon
For a long, lonely thirty years the faithful people of this Island have waited for beloved crime drama Bergerac to brighten to our screens again. Like a morning flight on a foggy Friday the promised return of Jersey’s favourite son has never quite landed, and the advancing age of John Nettles had led many to give up hope that his iconic burgundy motor would once again drive into the tunnel and emerge in St Peter’s Valley. This made it all the more shocking when in February it appeared that decades of sacrifices to our pagan idol (Oscar the Puffin) had been rewarded: the Radio Times revealed to its core audience of geriatrics that a new series of Bergerac will definitely, probably, possibly happen. This is wonderful news for loyal fans, terrible news for St Aubin-based jewel thieves, but also encouraging for anybody with the creative vision to understand that Jersey’s media profile doesn’t need to stop at a Bergerac reboot. Our Island has more to offer than a Thursday evening slot followed by years of lunchtime repeats watched only by retired people and students. I’ve already taken steps to trademark the exclusive rights to a string of Bergerac reboot websites, and will be setting up both tour companies and a factory in Shenzen to produce tea towels, but I have also developed a handful of Partridge-style pitches that can showcase Jersey’s versatility as a setting for the full spectrum of TV entertainment.
Top Gear Jersey a.k.a. Second Gear
Once the BBC’s flagship motoring show, Top Gear has never recovered from the departure of its former presenting team when paunchy Papa Bear Jeremy Clarkson biffed a producer because his porridge had gone cold. The show has thrashed about like a dying haddock ever since, perhaps because there’s something truly indefinable about Clarkson’s gifts as an engaging host despite being a wholly unpleasant man you’d avoid in any real-life situation. I can’t remember the names of the other two. Perhaps the answer isn’t just a new presenting team but a new format: the same supercars, but in a location where the average speed is now 20 MPH. At these speeds the BBC could slash insurance costs and more. We’ve already got the supercars, and also the flabby middle-aged men to drive them and speak in the trademarked Top Gear ‘smug dad’ voice. You could have celebs racing The Stig along the 5 Mile Road, a feature on the most lane-blocking 4x4s, and a regular comedy sequence where luxury cars are cheekily parked across both disabled spots outside the supermarket. I guarantee within two episodes Clarkson will beg to come back, although as he’s now an expensive item owned by Amazon it will take days to get him through customs and then he’ll be left on your doorstep in the rain.
Søddernjümpa: a gripping Scandinavian crime series set in the isolated community of Grouville
The British viewing public’s appetite for damp, moody crime dramas from Northern Europe has yet to diminish. Where Bergerac presents a side of Jersey where the sun never goes down, we also have the opportunity to make dramatic use of the wet weather that would result in a visiting filming crew kicking their heels indoors like Sixth Form students waiting for it to be nice enough to skive off and head to the beach. We could work the Scandinavian angle by making the focus of the drama a glum, unsmiling detective from Sweden – who has decided to take a break from her miserable day job by working for the STS language schools in sunny Jersey. Little does she know that it will rain all the time, the Island is full of dark secrets, and that she will be drawn into a soggy murder conspiracy when the designer of a controversial bridge to France is found dead in rainy, mysterious circumstances. I’m telling you, whatever the opposite of ‘hygge’ is we’ve got it in spades.
Strictly Come Battle Idol: St Clement’s Got Talent
The target audience for a Bergerac reboot is 40% millennials who’d watch it ironically and 60% OAPs who just can’t understand the accents in Taggart. The other cultural event that both of these groups adore is the Battle of Flowers, most accurately described as “Brighton Pride, but aimed at the audience for Songs of Praise.” Along these lines one of the more unexpected phenomena of modern telly is the resurgent popularity of shiny, sequinned Saturday night entertainment spectaculars – which have roared back from the 1970s alongside other forgotten favourites like Arctic Roll, measles, and needing to have a permit to drive in France. A TV show that captures the thrilling lead up to the main event of Jersey’s summer season has scope to offer everything that Saturday night TV does best. We’ve got the glamour of the dancers, the artistry of the floats and the star power of Mr Battle. Who cares that H from Steps once turned us down, and that Jimmy Savile did the job twice? I don’t think Peter Andre or the man from the Go Compare adverts will turn their noses up at the opportunity.
The Great British Crown Dependencies Bakeoff
The strength of “the Bergerac effect” on Jersey’s international profile was something of a sore point for the other Channel Islands. I’m not going to use the word “jealousy,” but it’s fair to say that people in Guernsey are bizarrely enthusiastic about Midsomer Murders. Now more than ever the islands need to stand together, so if Bergerac looks set to return Jersey to its 1980s prominence its only fair that we spread our success around a bit. This can be achieved by a British cooking competition with a twist – that it’s entirely themed around the personalities and produce of the bits of Britain that float in the English Channel. Master bakers from the three main Channel Islands (and Sark) will bombard each other with flour and treacle – with the stipulation that recipes that contain potatoes and full-cream milk are shoehorned in whenever possible. The Jersey-based finale will of course require the contestants to bake a cake with Jersey hemp, black butter and sea lettuce. The winner is given the chef’s job at either an over-priced garden centre tearoom or Sark’s one remaining hotel.
A Game of Thrones: Isle of Dragons
I don’t think anybody’s had a similar idea before, but observing the enduring popularity of swords and sorcery entertainment has always made me think that Jersey would be the perfect setting for a high-budget fantasy epic. We have the castles and the dramatic cliffs, and what we lack in glamorous lead stars we more than make up for in an inexhaustible supply of horsey ladies and people who look like they were born in a hut. Game of Thrones is about to come to its natural end but I’ve no doubt that the producers won’t leave fans or their bank managers waiting for long. We need to make our bid to be next in line to the throne – easily achieved by forcing the inhabitants of St Mary to dress entirely in black and setting out a budget to return the parish aesthetically to the 1400s. Should be a couple of grand at most. As a bonus the special effects men will be thrilled when they learn how regularly the Jersey countryside catches on fire.