A Very Peculiar Practice – The Snapper – tape 1454

Over to UK Gold for the first programme on this tape, A Very Peculiar Practice, Andrew Davies’ comedy about a university medical practice starring Peter Davison and Barbara Flynn. As usual, the episode opens with a short vignette featuring nuns and dustmen. I don’t know why.

Nuns on the run

This is episode 5 of series 2, Values of the Family. The staff are debating sexual harassment policy and gender issues. And the university senate is discussing the increasing of the applied sciences department, at the expense of the arts.  Rose Marie is scheming to undermine the reportedly lecherous old English professor.

After this, we switch to BBC2 for a Screen 2 presentation of The Snapper, the second film of Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown trilogy, of which The Commitments was the first.

Sharon Curley (Tina Kellegher) tells her parents Dessie and Kay (Colm Meaney and Ruth McCabe) that she’s pregnant, at 20.

Colm Meaney and Ruth McCabe

The conversation doesn’t go exactly as you’d expect – although he’s angry and she’s upset, he’s remarkably sanguine about it, and the scene ends with him taking Sharon to the pub for a drink. “Well, there’s no more to be said, is there? She’s obviously made her mind up. A man needs a pint after all that.” He and his daughter clearly have a good relationship, although I hope that was a coke she was drinking.

Also in the cast is Brendan Gleeson as one of Dessie’s mates.

Brendan Gleeson

Sharon won’t tell anyone who the father is – we learn that he’s the father of one of her friends, so the scandal would be all the greater if that became common knowledge.

Unfortunately, the man in question starts acting like a lovestruck teenager, leaves his family and writes to his wife that he’s going to look after Sharon and the baby. So then it really does blow up into a major drama. We get a flashback to the inciting incident – she was very drunk at a celebration, wandered out into the car park, he sees her and asks if she’s OK, she throws her arms around him, and they do it on the bonnet of a car. I guess it’s a sign of the times that at no point does anyone look at that and consider that it’s actually rape.

After a few scenes of general community opprobrium, to be expected in an Irish community, Sharon tells her best friend that the man’s not the father – it was a Spanish sailor, in dock for a couple of days.

In the end, everything goes reasonably smoothly, and a bouncing baby is born.

The Snapper

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th April 1993 – 22:00

After the film, there’s a trailer for Horizon: Ghosts in the Dinosaur Graveyard. Then the recording stops, just as China 9, Liberty 37 starts.

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