Should we be surprised that this widespread, sometimes unreflective deprecation of suburbia seems if anything only to have intensified as the suburban way of life has become increasingly the social norm? Every survey and census for decades has shown the centre of demographic, social and political gravity tilting irreversibly towards suburbia. It is now quiet suburban avenues, not teeming city streets, where one finds the key political battlegrounds in national politics. The decline of the local high street in the face of out-of-town superstores and malls is a much-remarked (and lamented) fact of commercial life. Soap operas, those barometers of changes in the cultural weather, have with Brookside and its adolescent counterpart Hollyoaks moved decisively away from the traditional inner-city community to the closes and culs-de-sac of the urban hinterland. Quite simply, the suburbs are our contemporary cultural dominant-in which case, perhaps their generally negative portrayal should be regarded simply as a backhanded tribute to their success and a testimony to their centrality.