I’ve previously vented my frustration at the portrayal of the working class on TV, especially the dreadful EastEnders which portrays a world of lazy, violent, spiteful cuckolds who somehow manage to spend all day in the pub with no visible income and no obvious health implications, but there’s another group perhaps even less well treated by TV writers: Christians.
Whereas many shows will go out of their way to be nice about non-Christian faiths, the few Christian characters on TV tend to be of the slightly obsessive/lecturing kind – Jehovah’s opposing transplants and transfusions, Dot Cotton in EastEnders – than everyday people who happen to have an inner core of faith which helps them through their day.
We may be slowly turning away from religion and the teachings of the bible rightly have less of a hold on legislation than was historically the case but this is, despite what TV would have us believe, still a largely Christian country
Even as a non-believer, it’s been great to see BBC One’s Apparitions portray Christianity not as something to be sniggered at, mocked or ashamed of, but a source of strength and courage.
With the involvement of Martin Shaw and Joe ‘Ultraviolet’ Ahearne I expected a lot from the series (probably brave of me after the rubbish we were served up by the respective creators of Merlin and Bonekickers) and I’m pleased to say I’m delighted with the result.
Most TV priests only have the job because the show’s (especially in soaps) ‘bully’ and ‘brassy’ quotas are full and as far as the plot implications are concerned, it would generally make no difference if the character ran the local cake shop instead.
Not so in Apparitions, where faith and Jacob’s position as priest is central to the plot, possibly for the first time since Don Henderson’s character in The Paradise Club and that’s almost 20 years old.
Frankly it’s a mystery how it’s taken so long for TV to show religion outside of comedy vicars, Songs of Praise or An Island Parish (great series though that is).
All too often the BBC wimps out of challenging audiences, I suspect because they like to have shows their commercial operation can easily flog to the US, so the result is often nonsense such as Robin Hood, Merlin and Bonekickers. On the other hand Apparitions requires a lot of the audience and despite the fantastical elements of the plots has a gravitas and credibility lacking from these disappointing non-starters.
For some reason Apparitions has been quite weakly trailed and promoted in stark contrast to obviously weaker shows (yes, those three again) which is quite worrying to this drama fan.
We’ve a few more weeks left to go and I have no idea how the series is going to end but I’ll be disappointed if there’s not a second run for a show which is so different, and so much better, than most of BBC One’s current output.
BTW, if you’ve missed the show there’s an upcoming DVD release which can be pre-ordered from the seenit store.