These days, Todger SlightlyInclined is probably best known as the actor who plays the part of Jasper Bosomthrobber, the struggling owner of a Cornish pasty mine, in the TV adaptation of Nigella Twee’s historical novel of the same name.
The eponymous novel is the first in a series of 256 novels. The series charts the life and times of the pasty mine owner, Bosomthrobber in the late 18th century. It was a time when the pasty mines were going through a crisis where the Cornish pastry seams – on which the pasty industry depended so heavily – were almost exhausted, if only at the levels the pastry mining technology of the time could reach.
As we all know, the raw pastry of a Cornish pasty can be quite volatile, especially if exposed to seawater. Most of the mines of the time were following the pastry seams deep under the sea, so pastry explosion accidents were bound to happen. The first series of Bosomthrobber shows several accidents occurring in the Bosomthrobber mine. All of which necessitated Jasper ripping off his shirt and getting all hot and sweaty as he bravely and single-handedly rescued both the trapped miners and the essential pastry that would keep the miners and their families from starving to death, at least until the next episode.
Each episode shows the mine owner Jason struggling to make ends meet and to make enough money to buy himself another shirt without having to lay off his miners. Several times other mine owners sympathetic to his plight, speaking with the voices of many years’ experience in mine rescue, tell him that there is no need for him to frantically rip off his own shirt at the first sound of the mine disaster alarm.
His housemaid, Heaving Cleavage, who is secretly in love with Bosomthrobber even – scandalously in that day and age – shows Bosomthrobber how to take off his own shirt without ripping or tearing it. In a shockingly exploit scene she shows him how to fold it so that he can put it back on after he has been brave, daring and heroic, and before the final credits roll.
Of course, the BBC had come under criticism for – as some reviewers say – using the programme to titillate its female viewers by having Bosomthrobber strip off at every conceivable – and a few inconceivable – moments. For example, some critics – and a few historians of the period – have questioned whether a man of Bosomthrobber’s social standing would rip off his shirt in a criminal court when he was on trial for attempting to sell some seawater-damaged below par pasty pastry to smugglers. Nor would he, some claim, have stripped off his shirt, even though he did it without ripping it, in the church when he eventually married his housemaid.
However, the programme was the hit of last year, with audiences eagerly tuning in each week to see Bosomthrobber dramatically rip his shirt off in this particular episode. So much so that the BBC has confirmed it has now commissioned several further series based on all 256 Bosomthrobber novels.