What’s going on with Sunday nights? Three weeks in a row we’ve been watching the TV eagerly, desperate to see a glimpse of a chesterfield sofa, and we’ve not even had a sniff. Just when we were giving up all hope of seeing an elegant leather chesterfield sofa on the box, the BBC hits us with not just one chesterfield sofa, not even two but more chesterfield sofas and wingback chairs than you could shake a stick at. Thank you BBC and Ripper Street for restoring our faith in public service broadcasting. We’ll even forgive you for not using a timeless chesterfield settee on BBC Breakfast.
Ripper Street’s an odd sort of programme. Yes, it’s dark and gritty and well-scripted, but there’s something not quite right about it. It looks the part and accurately portrays the squalor and grimness of East End life at that time, but there’s something missing: something we can’t quite put our finger on. Maybe it’s because it was filmed in Dublin and not Whitechapel. Maybe it’s just too stylised. Who knows? It might be lacking a certain something, but it’s definitely not a chesterfield sofa, not now anyway, that’s for sure. Inspector Edmund’s got one, Sergeant Drake’s got one, even Long Susan’s Tenter Street house of ill-repute has got one, so the BBC has certainly got that covered. There isn’t a chesterfield settee in Leman Street, but maybe that’s asking too much. When was the last time you saw a chesterfield sofa in a police station?
What have we learned about inner city Victorian life? Well, it was grim, dark, violent and lawless, if you were at the bottom of the pile. If you had a bob or two, however, life was good. You could afford the finer things in life, and if you were exceptionally well-healed you could even afford a chesterfield sofa or two. Is life any better now? Well, on balance you’d have to say it is. There’s still many thing that could be better, but at least chesterfield sofas are affordable these days.