TV Cream

Pot pourri

Rules of train travel

Laws governing the use and abuse of railway carriages in TV Cream-era programmes:

1) Characters must not travel on InterCity 125s or any trains made up of carriages comprising rows of forward facing seats. Only carriages comprising compartments are permitted.

2) Said carriages must have sliding doors connecting them with a corridor, down which a ticket inspector must be seen struggling past somebody hurrying suspiciously in the opposite direction.

3) The ticket inspector must also be seen weaving around someone gazing out of a window suspiciously.

4) The train must be passing through non-specific pastoral scenes.

5) If a carriage is full, people of mutually exclusive social backgrounds must be squashed together side by side, their class denoted by their choice of reading matter, e.g. The Financial Times = toff; New Society = teacher/social worker; The Listener = ponce; The Sun = oik.

6) There must also be a passenger of a secretive disposition, who:
a) if a sitcom must be behaving in a fashion at odds with their age and/or appearance, i.e. an old woman leafing through a copy of The Joy Of Sex;
b) if a sketch in a comedy show must pipe up suddenly with a verbal or visual punchline, i.e. lowering their newspaper to reveal themselves sporting a purple nose or to be a celebrity cameo;
c) if a drama must offer a moment of important exposition, i.e. “This is train to Plymouth, Norwich is on the left”.

7) Carriage seats must bump up and down the whole time.

8) A beautiful lady must be sitting alone in another carriage. with the blind partially rolled down. The ticket inspector will only make a cursory visit to this carriage, perhaps not even bothering to slide open the door and merely nod politely through the gap in the window.

9) Someone must stand up in a carriage, only to fall into somebody else’s lap when the carriage stops suddenly, landing in a manner that prompts immediate plot exposition.

10) Reference must be made to unsatisfactory cuisine, e.g. “There’s more culture in this yoghurt than an entire season at the Royal Opera House”, or “I think British Rail has started using their upholstery to fill their sandwiches”.

11) A carriage must empty to allow a sustained period of exposition to occur.

12) A carriage must suddenly fill up at the precise moment a piece of plot information is about to be imparted, thereby postponing a revelation and keeping audiences hooked.

13) If someone is playing loud music on a transistor radio inside a carriage, upon being asked to turn it down they must instead turn it up even louder.

14) If an alternative comedy, British Rail rules and regulations must not be gently spoofed but unsubtly flayed.

15) When passengers arrive at their destination they must disembark from videotape on to film.



  1. FishyFish

    February 24, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Terrible (but warmly nostalgic) Chromakey effects for passing scenery are de rigeur…

  2. Richard Davies

    September 6, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    I was thinking of ropey CSO as well.

    Often a character will have ticket locating problems when the guard wants to check them.

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