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Television Time: BBC’s Press

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BBC’s highly entertaining journalism drama drums up discussion on the role of the media today.

Does anyone read the news anymore? And even if they do, can they trust it?

Those are just some of the many issues BBC’s aptly titled Press raises about the media and the newsroom. Press opens dramatically, with the fictitious Herald’s news editor Holly Evans (Charlotte Riley) declaring loudly to an angry mob “I am a journalist” before its opening credits roll. From here, it’s nothing but one dramatic kerfuffle after another, as writers in the newsroom struggle with their journalistic integrity (or not) as they chase stories and lead lives awash in controversy as they hound innocents for scoops.

At the heart of Press is the antagonistic rivalry between the award-winning Herald, a left-leaning paper reminiscent of The Guardian, and their neighbours, The Sun-like tabloid The Post, awash in gossip and sensationalism. While Press itself certainly plays out like a tabloid, with huge drama waiting at every corner for its reporters and journalists, that’s not to say this portrayal of the average journalist’s life is entirely inaccurate, if a little exaggerated, and certainly makes for an addictive watch over its far too brief 6 episodes.

Like a good story, Press’ most compelling element is its characters – immediately recognizable archetypes, yet intriguing in their performances to make us feel for each one over the course of the series. We love to hate The Post editor Duncan Allen (Ben Chaplin, brilliantly snide and slippery) for his underhand bullying and methods, admiring him for his ability yet constantly hoping for the comeuppance he justly deserves, while one cannot help but understand The Herald’s Holly Evans’ plight of journalistic dreams coming to a halt as her editorial duties supersede her journalist ones, in a paper still accused of being ‘riddled with mistakes’.

In Press, the career of the journalist is a perilous one, with little room for reward except for the self-satisfaction of a well-written scoop, each article garnering haters from every corner. One can only wish that our local media scene in Singapore was as titillating as the world of Press, from suicidal gay footballers to inter-paper betrayals. Watch Press not for the hope that the papers will get better, but for the juicy behind-the-scenes action it promises, humanising journalists beyond their newshound personas in the public eye, and a completely binge-able series to savour every moment.

Photo Credit: BBC

For this review, Bakchormeeboy watched all six episodes of Series 1 of Press.

Catch Press exclusively on BBC First (StarHub Channel 522) and on the the BBC Player.

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