The Dust Diggers: Episode 3 Commentary

[posted 8:00 am, 11 November 2014]

Police brutality, a doesn’t-go-kart, killer robots, and the tragic career of Bob Grant. And who really fought for the freedoms we enjoy today?

(CONTENT WARNING: This story will deal with sexual violence and mental illness. See Help Links for more information about these issues.)

MANDY: I’m afraid we were a little bit distracted last time, so this cliffhanger is new to us. It looks like the police were going to shoot us. …

KATY: Tim saves us again!

MANDY: Mary Whitehouse came down hard on this. She said children might copy him.

KATY: It would be worse if children copied what the police did to the- Oh no! You can’t shoot Tim Bateson!

MANDY: Step on it, Bob.

KATY: We had terrible trouble with this buggy, didn’t we?

MANDY: Oh yes. At first it wouldn’t go.

KATY: It looks ever so silly. It would be quicker to walk. Why haven’t they caught us?

MANDY: We all had to imagine that it was speeding away. I suppose they had to keep the studio floor clear for this bit.

KATY: They always did anyway. Oh, the yuppie is on Maggie’s side again. I suppose he always was.

MANDY: Even she isn’t very pleased with the police now. They must have gone too far.

KATY: There’s got to be an ulterior motive. You can’t trust Maggie.

MANDY: Look! The aliens are in on it too.

KATY: I’m not sure if they’re supposed to be aliens. He just looks like a normal Japanese person.

MANDY: But they are on another planet, aren’t they?

KATY: I think this is another planet too. Everyone’s got funny names.

MANDY: It’s always hard to tell in the future.

KATY: What’s Bob Grant ranting about now?

MANDY: Oh dear. He wants to abolish the police. Perhaps that’s going a little too far.

KATY: Not after what they’ve just done. That’s more than a few bad apples. … Cabinet meeting!

MANDY: I don’t suppose children understood these bits.

KATY: (LAUGHING) Look at Maggie fondling the bottle of fizzy water. It’s filthy!

MANDY: I don’t think Mary Whitehouse spotted it.

KATY: Sometimes she complained about things she hadn’t seen.

MANDY: … Maggie’s not for turning.

KATY: She’s all but banging her handbag on the table.

MANDY: (WHISPERING) Just like Mrs T.

KATY: It’s very good satire. But the thing is, the powerful women in programmes like this are always Mrs T. Can’t anyone imagine a woman prime minister who isn’t an evil witch?

MANDY: When I was a girl, I never imagined we’d see a woman prime minister in my lifetime.

KATY: We all did at my school. But we thought it would be Mrs Barbara Castle.

MANDY: Oh, Bill is furious. Good eyebrow acting.

KATY: That’s a nice bit of business with his folder. … He’s resigned! Spot on, Bob. Spot on. Bob Holmes wouldn’t have known how things would turn out when he wrote the script, but by the time this went out … certain people had just resigned. Because of the helicopter factory.

MANDY: Poor old policemen. They’re in the same boat as the miners now.

KATY: Maggie doesn’t care.

MANDY: No compassion at all. The leaders who don’t seem to have any feelings are the most frightening ones.

KATY: But it’s just as bad if people get caught up in their own feelings and do things without thinking. This is why we’ve made such a mess-

MANDY: Look out! The robots are coming!

KATY: Very slowly.

MANDY: I suppose it was hard to move in those costumes. Often the people who played monsters couldn’t see where they were going. Oh, Bob Grant is getting ideas above his station.

KATY: He’s in for a shock when the robots get here. If they ever get here.

MANDY: He’s very good here.

KATY: Yes. Some people might think it’s funny to see him in something like this, but he did lots of theatre before he did telly. And it wasn’t all West End fluff. He worked with Joan Littlewood too.

MANDY: He’s another RADA graduate, isn’t he?

KATY: Yes, but a long time before me, of course. By this time he hadn’t done any telly for ages, had he?

MANDY: No, I felt very sorry for him. He had lots of bad luck.

KATY: I think the bus thing was a millstone.

MANDY: It was ever so popular.

KATY: I know, but it wasn’t very good.

MANDY: I suppose they were only giving people what they wanted.

KATY: The tabloids always make that excuse. And the racist parties. “We’re only giving them what they want.” Doesn’t make it right. Jack was just that sort of horrible character.

MANDY: Bob did want to get away from all that.

KATY: And this was supposed to be his big comeback. Which was more bad luck.

MANDY: He was thrilled about it at first. It was something a bit different. They didn’t typecast him.

KATY: But sadly nothing came of it. I think this was the last telly he ever did.

MANDY: Yes. He lived for quite a long time afterwards, but he wasn’t often well enough to work.

KATY: Of course, it didn’t help that Time Girls was such a disaster.

MANDY: I wouldn’t say it was a disaster.

KATY: This story was very good, even if the others weren’t.

MANDY: And it did have good viewing figures when it went out.

KATY: Even so, it’s lucky we weren’t up against Robin of Sherwood. No-one would have watched us. Anyway, the series was cancelled before we could make any more. I suppose it was my fault really.

MANDY: I wouldn’t say you were at fault. You just had a bit of bad luck. There were problems with one of the scripts, too. I don’t think it had been finished on time, and that was another reason to stop everything.

KATY: I’ve since heard that he hadn’t even started it.

MANDY: The fans are always asking what it was about, but of course I’ve no idea.

KATY: Weren’t those monsters from the first one going to come back?

MANDY: Not in that one. It was another one, that Derek was going to write.

KATY: Did he get it done?

MANDY: I’m not sure. There was one about the First World War. We nearly did make that.

KATY: I’m glad we didn’t. I read the script and it was terrible.

MANDY: It’s a sensitive subject, and I think it was handled very delicately.

KATY: By using the same cliches as everyone else.

MANDY: There was a lovely scene at the end. Everyone playing football in no man’s land among the poppies.

KATY: Urgh. I can’t stand poppies. I try not to be seen around Remembrance time in case anyone says I ought to be wearing one.

MANDY: I always wear one. I feel we should mourn those who died for the freedoms we enjoy today.

KATY: Which freedoms?

MANDY: Well … votes for women, of course.

KATY: Oh, was it the Germans who stopped us from voting?

MANDY: Well …

KATY: The founder of my old school fought for the freedoms we enjoy today. She was arrested for it. And now the government is wasting millions of pounds on-

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