YOU’RE LINING up to watch Line of Duty, or Peaky Blinders, and the opening scene reveals a young woman, once stunningly attractive but now milk white and lying on a slab and less of a memory than last year’s holiday.

But that’s no use, we all declare. It’s time we moved on from the old tropes. Let’s have a male stiff instead. Okay, fair enough. But what if the murderer is a female, with the serrated blade, the ice pick or the hat pin in her hands, ready to thrust it into the expectant male eye socket?

That’s the thoughts (more or less) of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the creator of BBC drama Killing Eve. PW-B’s success to date (alongside sitcom Fleabag) suggests she already knows a fair bit about what makes very good television. But this week she managed to upset both the feminist movement and Piers Morgan, (which may well be a world first) with a pronouncement.

Waller-Bridge described Killing Eve, in which assassin Villanelle is chased by an M15 operative Eve, as “refreshing and oddly empowering” because it allows for a female character to be violent after decades of television in which women have been “brutalised.”

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However, Morgan and a nice feminist doctor from Oxford didn’t see this was right and proper at all. The doc, Ian Flintoff, complained about “women simply stepping into the dangerous and often idiotic footprints that some men have passed down over the centuries.” Both went on to add that we need fewer bodies – of whatever gender – appearing on slabs.

But if there is an argument to be made for reducing violence on television – there were 27 murders in the first series of Killing Eve – this certainly isn’t it.

For one, there is no presumption whatsoever that murder taking place in the likes of Killing Eve will cause murder to erupt on the streets. No matter what Phoebe Waller-Bridge comes up with on TV, whether it’s alternative sexual practice or perfuming a young man to death, it won’t make a difference to what goes on outside our door. It won’t mean another teenage girl will be stabbed in London this week. It won’t mean another footballer will be assaulted by a moron with nothing better to do with his time.

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Women’s Hour’s Jane Garvey made the point this week. “Men are more likely to be the victims of violent crime in Britain, but that is not what is laid out for us on television screens.” She added: “And newspapers tend to fetishise the murders of young women.”

If that’s the case, and who’s to say it isn’t, is this not a case for creating more female murderers? Gender historian Zoe Strimpel said on the same programme, “If you were to say the one tool of patriarchy is violence it’s men’s physical strength, so inevitably when women flip that tool on its head it can be thrilling.”

Now, this isn’t what Morgan and the Doc were hoping to hear at all but who can deny that women love men on screen being stabbed in the eye? It’s thrilling because it’s not real. It’s this same appetite for death crime that manifests itself so prodigiously in Scotland where female writers are all too happy to garrotte/drown/poison/burn a bloke in the first 20 pages.

But if we were to take on the extreme feminist argument and take away the body – regardless of its sex – you take away the reason for the cop being there. And so you take away the show.

Yet, is the likes of Killing Eve turning women into men, in terms of murderous behaviour, while laughing in the face of feminist objectives? Some are already claiming this trend is following in the “weary anachronisms of a few self-important males.”

What nonsense. We’re talking about a series which is almost comic book, in which you rarely see more than a hint of blood. We’re talking of a series in which the assassin likes to accessorise to the murder she’s about to commit: a nice belt, or a scarf before she slits someone’s throat can create just the right mood.

We need to remember television drama is fiction, and women and men, for whatever strange reason, love the vicarious thrill of watching people – all people – being offed on screen. What we also need to keep in mind is that Jodie Comer’s character – always perfectly dressed – is strong, deranged and sexy. That doesn’t mean we should think about taking her to the pictures.

And what we have to also keep in mind is there was a time when it would have been deemed too horrible for a woman to even be horrible on screen.

But there are other reasons why this show is important. Woman have complained about a lack of great acting roles for years and here are two of them; a psychopath and an MI5 agent who have a crush on each other. It’s the latest in female-lead cop/spy dramas that excite such as Traitors and No Offence, whose central characters you’d assume would eat your first born.

And that’s great. Let women be as evil, corrupt, debased, debauched and bedevilled as men. They’ve earned it. To be honest, what I found more disturbing this week than Killing Eve’s psychopathy was Fiona Bruce leading a sing-song at the Antiques Road Show. That really was murder.