Postman Pat (and his black and white cat) was the King of Postmen. Or so I believed at the tender age of five. For those unlucky enough to have never watched this cartoon, Postman Pat was, unsurprisingly, a postman in the fictional rural idyll of Greendale. Pat spent his time driving his red van through this picturesque village with a parish church, village green, a school and a country manor house, delivering mail and chatting with the locals. And that was about it. There was a distinctive lack of depth to Postman Pat and Greendale, and I’m not just referring to Pat’s multiple adventures posting letters.
Anything and everything that might counteract the peaceful, perfect, quintessential image of Greendale remained absent from the cartoon. Industrialisation, consumerism, unemployment, non-white, non-Christian, homosexuals and poverty were strictly excluded. In one episode when Pat leaves his mail duties and ventures into London, he finds himself amongst Sikhs, Muslims, Afro-Caribbeans, homeless people and postwomen in a city that is full of crime, pollution and isolation. A place of utter chaos according to Pat where ‘People talked in such a funny way,’ he couldn’t understand.
Is this really what the producers of Postman Pat believed? That Greendale was‘good’ and the city was ‘bad’? Or was it what they wished for, their ideal village in Britain? In films, we see ideals played out all the time. The classic romcom where the lonely girl marries the hero. Call me a cynic but we all know this dream doesn’t reflect reality. Viewers don’t want a rom-‐com representing true life. It wouldn’t be a romcom if they didn’t live happily ever after.
…The show had been previously criticised due to its lack of multi-cultural representation in the past…
But for Postman Pat, TV dramas and soap operas that is what they are supposed to do: represent true life. We are supposed to able to relate to and understand the characters. In the news this week, Coronation Street announced it was introducing its first Muslim family after 53 years of the soap. The show had been previously criticised due to its lack of multi-cultural representation in the past. Based in Greater Manchester, where Asian residents make up 14.4% and Black residents 8.6%, it seems ‘bizarre’ to quote the producer Stuart Blackburn, that a non-Christian family hadn’t been introduced earlier. In 2007, the Masood family moved into Albert Square for the BBC soap EastEnders.
In a romcom, we like to watch the fantasy unfold for an hour and half and forget reality. But with soap operas and others, we want the nitty-grittiness. The dirt told and problems revealed. We want to see true reflections of the country we live in and embrace its multiculturalism to the full. We still have our heritage but Britain is a mish-mash of everything too; population, religion, industry, politics and music. And that is what Britain is to me. It is not some all-white, all Christian, orthodox society. No offence to Postman Pat, but if I lived in Greendale with Dorothy Thompson and Mrs Goggins, I would be bored senseless.