Friday, 21 March 2014

The Doctor Blake Mistake

I quite enjoy ABC television's The Doctor Blake Mysteries. Set in regional Australia in the years following World War 2 it is a comparatively gentle mystery crime series along the lines of, say, the Miss Marple stories.

To my casual eye, the series does a pretty good job of recreating the look and fashions of the day and it takes a lot of care to avoid anachronistic images. In tonight's episode Australia's once favourite cake, the lamington, featured as a key clue but sadly the production design team mucked up an important ingredient.

For those who don't know, a lamington is traditionally a square of sponge cake coated in chocolate sauce and then coated in dessicated coconut. Sometimes the square is cut in two with jam and/or cream inserted between the top and bottom halves. Like Australia's Vegemite, lamingtons seem enjoyable only to Australians and to no one else.

Anyway, back to Doctor Blake.

The offending lamington was discovered in the kitchen of the school tuck shop. (A tuck shop is a small food outlet usually staffed by parent volunteers selling take away lunch and snacks to the students during their lunch break.) The lamington of interest to Doctor Blake looked something like the one in this photo;

Notice the coconut flakes? They are quite large. A style that seems to have been introduced to lamingtons in the past five years or so. Quite different from the style I grew up with in the 1950s which more like the one in the next photo;

and which I would have thought the more likely to be found by Doctor Blake.

A small detail for most people, I agree, but quite critical for a lamington aficionado like myself.

After all, it is details that Dr Blake revels in.


  1. Any error was more deeply embedded than the lamington design, Victor: Dr Blake detects a piece of coconut as a vital clue, but that is scarcely conceivable with the smaller coconut pieces you say are the only authentic possibility.

    At our place we enjoy Dr Blake but were a bit disappointed at the play for the jackpot with a child-abuse theme: it is the fictional equivalent of using Hitler as an example in an argument (even though, as an old high-school and university debater, I know Hitler can be deployed to prove anything).

    1. I must say I thought the child abuse element seemed a step too far for the overall genteelness of this series.

      This series has perhaps been too successful. Its longevity and never ending murder rate is turning Ballarat into Australia's Midsomer.

  2. PS: the plot detail with the police officer in his childhood coughing his lungs out: I'm afraid D and I were first suspecting something more lurid than we got, and not involving the lungs at all.

  3. Well spotted. I have not noticed, but commercially produced lamingtons do have different coconut. There are many flaws, especially in the dialogue, but it is an enjoyable show to watch.

    1. With all the lamingtons in all the world, Andrew, why did Doctor Blake pick on that one?

      Eat it again, Sam.