[Note: What follows is meant to be fun, not downplaying anything. If you find humour misplaced at this point in time, please don’t read. I do not mean to make fun of or anger anyone. On the contrary, I am trying to escape into happy-ending fantasy, to cheer myself – and others? – up.]
Do you have trouble believing all that is happening at the moment? The situation feels really strange to me. There is a somewhat undefined threat there, in the sense that we actually *know* the threat, but are telling ourselves that we are relatively safe as long as we take precautions. It is really weird. I am worried, and I am telling myself not to be worried at the same time. I am a firm believer in the power of all art forms to provide information and thought-provoking stimulation, as well as distraction in difficult times. It keeps us going, unites us and makes us feel human. As does humour. I read a German Twitter thread this morning, RT’d by Herba, that made me laugh out loud.
Yep, possible. German humour. I’m including it here for reference.
“If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane,” said Robert Frost. I am not downplaying the threat, and I think with trepidation of our fan friends in Italy and elsewhere. I mean no disrespect whatsoever, I hope you all know that. I’m worried for my own family. What is happening is not laughable, it’s serious, I take it seriously, and I don’t believe there is humour in the virus situation *as such*. But I think that humour has the power to distract us and to lighten the load for a moment. I hope you don’t find this in bad taste. If so, I do apologise, and I ask you not to read any further. My aim is to entertain, not to hurt.
So, as soon as I had read that Twitter thread above, I thought “wouldn’t it be fun if we make up a similarly sensational, commercial TV film – with RA in it”??? I basically couldn’t help it. This is what I came up with:
Soon on your telly: Channel 4 presents “Corona -Saviour from the Hermitage”. The brilliant surgeon Dr Michael Aston (Richard Armitage) is seeking for solace in the bottle and is living as a hermit far away from civilisation after the tragic death of his wife and unborn child a few years ago under his own supervision. On one of his rare visits to the small town on the edge of his forest to stock up on alcohol, he is astounded to see the town devastated by a virus outbreak that had passed him by in his wifi-unconnected hermitage. Only the local orphanage still shows signs of life, with teacher Sonya Seridge (the aptly named Aimee Lou Wood) looking after 20 children of varying ages. With hardly any provisions left and the children and their teacher facing starvation, the group can only survive if they make it to the 2000 mile away capital.
After shaving off his beard, Aston manages to cobble together a wood-carburetor minibus with a piece of string and some duck tape, and takes Sonya and the children to safety. During the two-week odyssey, Aston and Sonya discover their feelings for each other. The ex-surgeon is feted like a hero by the government and the children are given into the care of loving and rich foster families. Prime Minister and ex-professor Seridge (Ciaran Hinds) is in fact Sonya’s estranged father. As a thank you to Aston for saving his daughter, he immediately makes Aston head of the Department of Health, ousting former health minister John Voynich (Toby Jones), a former medical colleague of Aston’s. Aston implements draconian hygiene standards and the virus outbreak is contained and eventually conquered.
In an act of revenge, Voynich leaks to the media the circumstances that led to Aston’s wife’s death – accusing the brilliant surgeon of negligence in the area of hygiene. Aston refuses to comment on the accusations, returns to the forest and grows his beard again. The devastated Sonya teams up with investigative journalist Ingrid Hollander to clear Aston’s name. Together they uncover a plot that saw Voynich, whose advances had been thwarted by Mrs Aston (played in flashbacks by Rosalind Eleazar), personally sabotaging the hygiene of Dr Aston’s private clinic at the time of Mrs Aston’s death.
Voynich is charged with fraud and manslaughter; Aston is exonerated. Reconciled with the fact that Aston has left her because he does not love her, Sonya nevertheless pulls out all the stops in order to bring the good news to Aston. Flying over the forest in an SAR helicopter, Sonya spots the isolated hermitage and is winched down to be reunited with Aston. They rekindle their love, adopt the 20 orphans and Aston promises to never grow his beard again.
And now over to you. Let your imagination run free. How is ex-SAS strong man John Porter going to save the day? Will Dr Track be paged? Is Harry Kennedy’s smile his most deadly weapon? Would Guy of Gisborne wash his hands or is he safe thanks to his omnipresent gloves? Or is there a chaRActer we don’t even know yet who will save the world – and get the girl? Can’t wait to read more stories!