These days, travel is cheap. This means two things:
It’s easy for us to travel places, see what they look like and learn about other people’s cultures
It’s easy for film crews to travel places and film them
That means that these days, except in a few cases where it’s not worth the effort, if a movie wants to show us Japan or Paris or Iceland, it can.
But this hasn’t always been the case. The Hunt For Red October is a rather good 1990 movie directed by Die Hard’s John McTiernan, with cinematography by future Speed director Jan De Bont. Based on the Tom Clancy novel of the same name, it was the first of many movies featuring Clancy’s hero Jack Ryan (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, The Sum of All Fears and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit being the others), here played by 30 Rock’s Alec Baldwin – yes, young people, there was a time when Alec Baldwin was an action hero. It was also the movie that temporarily relaunched Sean Connery’s acting career.
But as it was 1990, which was a horrifying 25 years ago, the American film industry’s approach to foreign filming – and indeed foreign – was a little different. First off, it was entirely acceptable to have Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Gates McFadden pretending to be Ryan’s English wife Caroline.
Yes, children, there was a time when there were so few British actors working in Hollywood, they actually had to hire Americans to play Brits. Can you imagine that?
But how best to establish that our Jack lives in England, without actually going to England, cos it’s expensive and who cares about the tax breaks and co-funding that don’t yet exist? Well, he’s got to go to the airport, of course, and that means Heathrow. But do enough people know that’s in London? Probably not. So let’s make sure it’s labelled ‘London Heathrow’. And because it’s England, that means it has to be raining. So let’s start with that.
Good so far. But is that British enough? Obviously not. We need to make sure there’s a whole bunch of right-hand drive cars, made obvious with some careful backlighting. And they have to be obviously English cars, too, so let’s throw in a black cab, a Rolls Royce and a Land Rover.
Still not enough? Okay. Let’s add in a double decker bus. Still not enough? Then let’s add in a Union Flag.
But is that British enough? Really? Are we quite sure everyone will realise they’re in London yet? I don’t think so. So let’s add in a map of the London Underground on the side of a bus stop for no well explored reason. Surely that should say London, England.
Not enough? Are you kidding? Surely that’s peak Brit. Okay, fine. I can see what we need here. We need a good old British bobbie in one of those pointy helmets.
Happy? No! Really, that’s not British enough? Right. Fine. Here, have two British bobbies.
And thus we reach peak Brit. That’s how we did it in the 90s, kids. And here you can see it in one smooth, beautiful 90 seconds of Englishness so powerful, it might as well be drinking tea and eating spotting dick while a British Bulldog sits on a Union Flag pillow with the Queen.
About the blog
A UK media blog focusing on the best scripted TV from around the world, with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover Scandinavian, Canadian, European and Antipodean TV, as well as UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
Add in film, theatre, art, books, events, competitions and even weekly reviews of Wonder Woman comics, and you've (hopefully) got officially the fourth best blog on the web for media lovers. Oh yes, and there's The Barrometer, the ultimate guide to quality TV.
Praise for the blog Cision: fourth most important UK TV blog Blogging Edge: Blogger running Britain 2013
"For most of us watching the telly of an evening is a way to wind down and relax, but for Rob Buckley it’s his blogging bread and butter. With reviews of cult classics and up and coming US and Brit television shows, The Medium is Not Enough is fast becoming essential reading for TV buffs, with over 50,000 hits a month."
"The Medium Is Not Enough is a light-hearted look at TV, often from the US, but also from the UK. With varied, well-written content, the blog features healthy engagement and features well in search engines."
"Billing itself as 'officially the fourth most popular UK TV blog', there are several whimsical regulars here that could help it climb as high as number three…"
I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.