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Smallscreen

Squeamishness is old hat. A new generation of crime dramas encourages us to revel in human gruesomeness as never before

By Peter Bazalgette   November 2009

ABOVE: Trevor Eve as hard cop Boyd in Waking the Dead

There’s a woman at Shepperton film studios who runs a props company called Animated Extras. The name is hardly a perfect trades description since her most popular product is anything but animated. Pauline Fowler makes the lifelike cadavers that television pathologists now dissect in such intimate and excruciating detail. I learnt this from Watching the Dead (BBC4) which traced a history of forensic detection in television drama.

Police fiction in the 1970s relied on car chases and squeezing confessions out of suspects, as indeed did our real-life police…

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