An American drama that doesn’t feature an iPad is like a beach without sea: you just don’t see it, and nor would you want to. The iPad has replaced pen and paper as the means by which everyone shares information with their colleagues and, on the rare occasions they are not using one, they are sitting at their desks in front of a Mac computer.
Product-placement rules mean that British and Irish dramas feature less identifiable brands, and nowhere is this more true than in soap. Have you noticed in EastEnders, for example, that everyone has the same tone on their phone when a text comes in? In real life, even the bus has a veritable orchestra of tones on different devices.
No one in Walford has an iPhone, either. How unrealistic is that? When Ben called Phil from the bathroom this week, shortly before Shirley tried to re- Christen him in the bath (Hurray! You go for it, girl!), I swear the phone he was using was barely one up from carrier pigeon in the communication stakes. And who spells out their entire conversation these days, as the EastEnders invariably do? DONT U C NOT COOL?
Coronation Street is even more antiquated. Roy’s phone is a JCB of a monster hanging on the wall. And the ringtone on the phone at the hospital where Tracy was incarcerated would have had Alexander Graham Bell reaching for his ear-plugs. And – most curious of all – in soapland nobody ever complains about the cost of their phone bills.