Secret TV insider fact–most writers are lazy idiots.

March 30, 2008


A character on ‘Heartbeat’ just said of another character “Say what you like about him, he’s old school.” Because, you know, people were always using hip hop terms to describe each other in rural England in the fucking late Sixties.

Development! Epocalypse writes “Old School has been in common English usage since the mid Eighteenth Century. It may be a hip hop phrase to you but it’s distinctly old school to me.”

Fair enough. Except the context was some old dear saying “He’s old school.” Not “He’s of the old school” or “very much an old school style of gentleman.”. Just “He’s old school.” And I’m sorry, but that’s just ridiculous.

Further development! Jake points out that the term was used in a 1952 episode of ‘Dragnet’. So perhaps I’m being unfair to the ‘Heartbeat’ writer. I still get a suspiciously modern scent from that line, but I may have been wrong to say it wouldn’t have been used at that time. The lazy idiot in the headline could well be me.


  1. I totally agree. It’s so bleeding obvious when contemporary vocab is used out of context. One of the most hilariously BAD examples is the pod race in Star Wars Episode 1 (hey this already sounds like shit!).. one of the race commentators says “I don’t care what universe you’re from.. THAT’S GOTTA HURT!”

    That’s as far as I got through that “film”.

  2. You have no idea how much it delights me to know that you also watch Heartbeat.

  3. Oh, sorry to disappoint, Thomas. I was just flipping.

    That fucking ‘Star Wars’ line! I think that was the very moment I tuned out. Not only the line, but the whole concept of the two-headed sports commentator…so unbelievably lame!

  4. The Mummy Returns – the young boy says “Get a Room!” to his parents twice I think. You’re supposed to find it cute but I harrumphed loudly in the cinema. It’s the 1930s or summat!

  5. Why the goddamn tits are you watching Heartbeat?! Phew, now I feel better. By the way, I just caught the GAY! gay musical episode of the IT crowd for the first time last night and I think I stopped breathing for laughing, particularly at Roy’s face in the wheelchair scenes.

  6. Heartbeat’s been on our screens for 16 years, and was originally set in 1964. So by rights, it should now be set in 1980, just as old school hip-hop was kicking off. Of course, they wouldn’t have called it old school then as new school hadn’t yet come along, but by rights it should not be as much of an anachronism. I for one think it would be a much better show if the show had kept its timeline right and the soundtrack now featured the likes of the Sugarhill Gang.

  7. My worst for me was the line in the film Titanic about Picasso spoken by English ponce passenger

    “… he won’t amount to a thing.”

    … Smug lazy shitty short-cut writing that is about as profound as your average bowel movement.

    I hate Cameron and all he stands for because of it.

  8. I used the phrase “old school” back in the day when I was in my old school.

    Next thing you’ll be saying that the phrase “a rap on the knuckles” couldn’t have existed before the late 1970s.

    As if…:-)



  9. “Just flipping”, eh? Also, is flipping even the correct term? Sounds a bit old school to me. Always enjoy your site – must, must have you and Helen over soon. xx

  10. Hey, there, Fiona! Any time. xxx

  11. If its that easy . . . next time you’re in Belfast there’s a blow up mattress with your name on it at our place.

  12. God you know I’d forgotten all about that podrace line. That was the exact moment I felt my rekindled childhood dreams run down my leg in a slippery mess.

  13. High everyone

  14. reminds me of that bit in the fellowship of the ring where gimli goes ‘nobody tosses a dwarf’. yeah, good one peter jackson.

  15. It doesn’t change the fact that most writers are lazy idiots. I’ve read in newspapers things from chain e-mails repeated as “fact”, despite being proven completely and utterly made up by even the most brief research. I’ve even seen a guest host on a quiz show (Countdown, if you care) repeating these same “facts” as being “absolutely true, I’ve checked them”, as he reads from a printed version of the email.

    Just because an American police drama from the 50s used “old school”, doesn’t go any way to prove that it would have been in common usage in rural England in the 60s!

  16. I got into quite a heated debate about a line in the first episode of Ashes To Ashes, where a character is described as “speaking bloody Klingon” – it remains my conviction that Star Trek simply didn’t have the degree of cultural penetration in 1981 that it subsequently had, and there is no way a blokey regional copper on transfer to London in 1981 would have known what a Klingon even was, never mind the Klingon language (which at this point had made one, brief appearance in the first ST movie).

    And I don’t even *like* Star Trek.

    (And don’t start me on the character in He Kills Coppers who has a copy of Dark Side Of The Moon in 1971…)

  17. The besmirched honour of the writers’ of Heartbeat has been restored … and they’ll probably never know of the gargantuan etymological battles fought on these pages as a direct result of their inane scribblings.

    We must all tune in to Heartbeat this Sunday and trash them mecilessly!

  18. Everybody in rural Yorkshire in 1964 was old school, so what did they think of as old school? That would have truly been an ancient academy.

  19. Ah, but Heartbeat specialises in anachronism. Here’s a post from the BBC ‘Points of View’ messageboard:

    “Heartbeat, 25/11: Here we go again. We see a train robbery staged using a steam loco pulled train (30926 Repton ex SR Schools Class) and in the same programme a car tax disc showing DEC 69. That must mean the train was running 2 Years AFTER steam finished on the BR network ”

    Just plain shoddy, I call it!!

  20. You guys are a bunch of snobs. Shitty writing isn’t even just the plainly obvious cornball “Yo that’s old school” crap you keep moaning about. It’s also the whole range of reuse of cliche formulations and nauseatingly stagnant “insights.” And then there’s the case when the writing is nothing but a pretentious miasma of crap with little content. Something where the visceral ornamentation is unwarranted and FAR exceeds the value.

    So yes, I agree. Lazy idiots with something off balance in their empty heads to motivate them to write that kind of shit. With thinking as crooked as theirs, they probably suck at math, too.

  21. Wuh? Me not understand! Me SMASH!

  22. Bob the Chef are you a frustrated writer, aching for your big break? How many times did you check the online thesaurus to complete this masterpiece?

    It’s a good point you made Graham, maybe the example wasn’t the best though. But who am I to argue. By the by, I moved to Dublin from Belfast a year back, any pubs you’d recommend?

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