Call The Midwife writer Heidi Thomas says the 'primary role of a woman in modern drama is usually to be found dead and the primary role of a child is to go missing'
Call The Midwife writer Heidi Thomas today condemns modern drama’s obsession with rape and sexual violence, accusing TV bosses of depicting ‘the most debased instincts’ of humanity to grab ratings.
She tells BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that she struggles to understand why so many shows in recent years have relied on violence against women and children to attract viewers.
‘The primary role of a woman in modern drama is usually to be found dead and the primary role of a child is to go missing,’ she says. ‘I do wonder at the fascination with violence and with the damaged psyche and why that is considered to be so marketable.’
Thomas, one of television’s most successful writers who counts the Bafta-winning Cranford among her credits, is famous for putting strong female characters at the centre of her work.
The 57-year-old questions the use of hardcore violence to represent gritty realism, while the emotion-evoking storylines in Call The Midwife are often dismissed as nostalgia or fantasy. She tells host Lauren Laverne: ‘You only have to look at the latest roster of drama that has been bought or commissioned by such and such a streaming channel. It’s so often about crime and very often about rape and very often about the most debased instincts that humans have. I naturally recoil from that slightly.’
Call The Midwife, which launched in 2010, is now the most successful continuing drama on our screens and is beginning its ninth series on Christmas Day. Ms Thomas revealed how she developed an obstructed intestine which led to life-threatening health complications in the 1990s and these experiences 'change your perspective'
She adds: ‘I’m not saying those dramas should not exist. I think they are considered to be the more popular dramas and, oddly, they are also considered to be the more realistic, and Call The Midwife is considered to be a sort of fantasy. I find that a very fascinating comment on our own point of view as a society.’
Call The Midwife, which launched in 2010, is now the most successful continuing drama on our screens. Its ninth series, starring Helen George, Jennifer Kirby, Leonie Elliott and Jenny Agutter, begins on Christmas Day.
Thomas also reveals how a brush with death helped her own creativity, despite fearing her illness would leave actor husband Stephen McGann to care for their infant son, Dominic, by himself.
She tells Desert Island Discs (pictured) that the latest dramas are 'so often about crime and very often about rape and very often about the most debased instincts that humans have'
In the late 1990s, she says, she developed an obstructed intestine which led to life-threatening health complications, including sepsis.
‘I had to have emergency surgery and a very large piece of my bowel was removed, and then of course I had to deal with the sepsis, so I was very, very poorly.’
She adds: ‘It was a brush with death that I do think changes your perspective.
‘It gave me a sense of how much there was to lose. For years and years