Why, despite being a committed socialist, am I up at 3am, “about to begin my seventh episode in a row” of Made in Chelsea, asks Rory Mullarkey in The Guardian. The reality show is all about posh Londoners, with names like “Binky” and “Boulle”, cheating on each other and then denying it in nice cafes. “This is hardly high-class stuff, despite being literally high-class stuff”. Yet I love it so much I’ve written a play about it, Mates in Chelsea. Indeed, “I can’t help but hoover up any media with a titled aristocrat”. When Downton Abbey’s Matthew Crawley ploughed his sports car into a delivery truck and died, I sobbed “like a little boy”.
Posh people have long dominated “the landscape of the English imagination”. I think it’s something to do with their freedom from consequence. These “God-nominated scions of untouchability” don’t have to deal with bills or interest rates. They are, effectively, children, and endlessly fascinating as a result. PG Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster is cushioned by his place in society and “mothered perfectly by his omniscient manservant Jeeves”. Even bad behaviour gets a pass. During the interval of Laura Wade’s excellent play Posh, after 75 minutes of pseudo-Bullingdon boys “shouting about how much they hate poor people”, a woman sitting behind me sighed wistfully to her friend: “It just makes you wish you were back at Cambridge, doesn’t it?”