The BBC are putting on a major new drama for Christmas this year on the nativity this year over four evenings at 7pm on BBC1 this coming week. Its been a while since the BBC has put on something this big at peak time leading up to Christmas. The Nativity (for that is its name!) has been written by Tony Jordan (co-creator of Life on Mars and one of the main writers of Eastenders).
There was a good article about it in the Independent in which they quote from Tony Jordan:
Claiming that his knowledge of the Christmas story was confined to his children’s school nativity plays, Jordan sought out sceptical historians and scientists as well as devout believers for his research.
“I think if they have got faith then it will reaffirm it and I think if they haven’t got faith then I would like to think it might make them think twice,” he says of the potential audience of his four-part series, which is being stripped across the week leading up to Christmas. “More importantly, I think it is really nice for an audience to just be reminded of what Christmas is.”
The trouble with many productions in the past (made by all sorts of different people) is that they all too easily either fall into the “faithful hagiography” (or boring) or “ridiculous re-imagining” (missing too much of what is important – just naff). So I do hope that the Eastenders past of Tony Jordan helps to bring the characters alive. With Peter Capaldi (from The Thick of It) as Balthazar, one of the Wise Men – lets hope he doesn’t morph into Herod’s press secretary!
One of the other characters I am interested in how they will portray is a shepherd (Thomas) who is depicted as struggling with faith. As Tony Jordan says:
‘The Magi are there to watch the fulfilment of Balaam’s prophecy, Mary is there because she has been chosen by God, and Joseph has been chosen by God to look after Mary and the child. Everybody is there for a reason, but the question still remains, “Well, what does this mean to me? Why is this important to a normal working bloke?” And Thomas is there to represent all of us.’
So, I am hopeful that it will be a good re-telling. One that I am sure in parts will annoy but other parts I hope will challenge or enrich my (and hopefully others) understanding of the most amazing story of God coming as one of us in a backwater of a great empire.
Now as many of you know I don’t have a TV / licence and so will only watch it after the event. Do please leave comments as to how you found it each evening.
Update: I have now done a review of it.