I am writing this on Maundy Thursday. Tomorrow is the most solemn day of the Christian Year, a day which commemorates appalling suffering and sacrifice, and this is a Christian country, built on Christian heritage, shaped by the Church. Yet it would appear that this is just another bank holiday. Shops are open, special attractions are on offer, the roads are jammed as people head for the coast, the lakes, Scotland and major airports.
I opened my Radio Times. Perhaps the BBC would be showing The Greatest Story Ever Told? Perhaps Talking Pictures TV would be offering Jesus of Nazareth? Maybe some other channel would give us The Passion of the Christ?
Nothing doing. To be sure the pages have a great banner across the top saying “Good Friday” but it is illustrated with cartoon birds and a helicopter. It is all very jolly with no hint of anything sombre.
Channel 5 is the only one which seems fully to acknowledge the day. Ben-Hur, with its climax of a miracle caused by the Crucifixion stretches across the solemn hour and later there is a two-hour documentary on the last days of Christ. Doubtless it will rubbish the Gospels, but at least it is a recognition of the historical importance of Good Friday.
By contrast the other main channels offer very little. At 9am BBC One has Fern Britton off around the Holy Land and thereafter nothing at all. No religious service, no relevant documentaries, no relevant films. BBC Two offers Mary Berry’s Easter Feast. No, it is absolutely not a feast day. It does, however, give us King of Kings across the solemn hour. ITV doesn’t give even the most cursory nod to the day. I trawled from 6am until midnight and found zilch. As far as its bosses are concerned it is just another Friday. The same is true of Channel 4.
The Freeview channels are just as bad. At 3pm they offer variously Carry on Screaming, St Trinian’s or Call the Midwife…Is it any wonder that so many children and even adults no longer know the meaning of Good Friday when it is so comprehensively ignored and even jollified?
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