Diary: Drama gets a dose of fake news medicine

The Queen isn't dead. A scene from BBC2's broadcast of King Charles III. Photo: Robert Viglasky
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Another week, dear readers, another slew of Twitterati failing to grasp the concept of fiction.

Sure, it’s happened to us all: Tabard remembers a night at the theatre not so long ago, watching as Cornwall yanked one of Gloucester’s peepers out from its socket and suddenly thinking, ‘Hang on a minute – this is a bit far-fetched. It didn’t actually happen, did it?’

Yet when Tabard protested to the ushers, insisting that they hang a sign above the theatre warning audiences that the play was fake, he was laughed out of the auditorium.

That story was fictional by the way. It didn’t happen. Much like the events in Mike Bartlett’s play King Charles III, whose television adaptation provoked a pathetically sized storm in a rather tiny teacup last week.

“I thought the queen died,” barked one credulous Twitter user as the hashtag #KingCharlesIII started to rise through the trending ranks when the play was broadcast.

“I hope that the BBC will make clear that the production is pure fiction,” cried one Conservative MP, fearful that the great British public would not realise that a drama set in the future starring actors and featuring the ghost of Princess Diana was not real.

For the sake of that MP, perhaps the BBC should adopt a new “Is this the real life/is this just fantasy?” feature on its red button.

Or instead just refer to Tabard’s handy guide: EastEnders? Fiction. Line of Duty? Fiction. The news? These days, your guess is as good as Tabard’s.

Send stories to tabard@thestage.co.uk