Jamaica Inn and why all programmes need subtitles

A friend of mine went to the doctor recently, terrified by the sudden appearance of luminescent white spots, like toxic sequins, on his scrotum. After innumerable tests, the doctor wrote to say he had white spots on his scrotum. My friend wondered if the condition had a name. White spots on the scrotum, the doctor told him.

I was reminded of this last week when reading about viewers complaining to the BBC that they couldn’t hear a word of what the actors in the new period drama Jamaica Inn were saying. After lowering herself deep into the whys and wherefores of what had gone wrong, Philippa Lowthorpe, the director of Jamaica Inn, came back up with an explanation that left nothing further to be explained: there was, she said, “a sound issue”. So “that’s all good then”, to borrow a phrase from Ian Fletcher, head of human values in that Beebspeak spoof, W1A.

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