Page 2, 20th December 1963

20th December 1963
Page 2
Page 2, 20th December 1963 — RADIO & TV

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Why poodles?

by Eve MacAdam

THE programmes scheduled by TV and Radio for the next few days' viewing and listening are beyond belief, so totally lacking are they in enterprise or in relevance to the season, that is CHRISTMAS.

They read like those menus stuck up outside pull-ins for lorry drivers, menus of stodgy food which ignore all rules of diet, taste, aesthetics and the

This is much the same Christmas fare as that of last year, and the year before, and so it will continue unless the public remind the BBC and TTV that a great many people switch on their sets on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the hope of seeing something that will evoke the loving and reverent response we want to experience on these days.

Most people deplore the exploitation of Christmas, and this goes for agnostics, atheists and unbelievers, no less than for the believers; in sonic ways people outside Christianity are the most critical of all of the way Christians celebrate the festival dedicated, supposedly, to commemorate the world's most stupendous event.

Not long ago I flew out to Calcutta and heard a comment from a Muslim which, whether we like it or not (and most of us don't) neatly sums up what is happening to Christmas. This Muslim asked me, "Why do you Christians put poodles on your Christmas cards?"

Surely there is an opportunity for TV and sound broadcasting to do a little to correct the appalling materialism and commercialism of Christmas Eve and Christmas day. So many people arrive at Christmas Eve exhausted: the women are apprehensive as well, their minds full of the meals, parties and what-not ahead. TV and radio could do much to reorient their battered spirits

Would anyone object, and would anyone think it strange if the BBC and ITV devoted halfor, say a quarter, of their programmes on these two days to an attempt to evoke a spiritual response to Christmas?

If people were not interested in what Christmas is really about, they could switch off and wait for the heat music, the Disney cartoon and the old Chaplin film.

What is deplorable is to find on these days of a religious festival practically no alternative on our screens to the sensual, the sentimental, and the slapstick.

After all, this is supposed to be a Christian country and this is Christmas. Some of us would like to he reminded what Christmas is about. Far from helping us the BBC and ITV throw up more trash to the great mountain of trash that is gradually covering Christmas.

We have 363 days of the year to goggle at Elizabeth Taylor: must the BBC on Christmas Eve show a film of Miss Taylor on the roof of the Dorchester Hotel recalling the names of her favourite pubs?

ITV's idea for a Christmas Eve programme is to tell Christians about a birthplace. but not that of Our Lord, but of-you've guessed it-the Beatles! This contribution occurs in their "musical documentary", "Beat City".

On Xmas day itself ITV indicates the general attitude to Christmas viewing with "Christmas in Coronation Street" and "Christmas Star Time" taking tip about 90 minutes and the Archbishop of Canterbury ten minutes, One must be lair, however, and point out that here and there indications do exist that the networks are aware what happens on December 24th and 25th. Home Service, for instance, is relaying the beautiful carol service from King's Chapel, Cambridge on Xmas Eve, with a repeat on Xmas day.

'I his first went out as an Xmas. programme in 1928, and so has become routine. It is routine also for the Third to broadcast a Meditation on the evening of Christmas Day (given this time by T. S. Gregory, the Catholic writer).

We arc grateful for these and other items of religious content, but it isn't good enough. The BBC and ITV shouldn't he allowed to get away with this miserable Christmas schedule.

It is clear that to TV and radio executives Christmas programming is a chore to be despatched as quickly as possible with the least effort and the least thought. Last year's routine will do for this anything, so long as it gives no trouble.

Everyone must be aware that tremendous efforts are being made by religious leaders and public men to erase the impression that Christians dislike Jews because they blame them for Christ's crucifixion.

It seems tactless, therefore, of the BBC to choose Christmas for the time to present Dicken's most loathesome Jew, Ebenezer. Scrooge in their series, "Sunday Story", It is another instance of the unthinking any-old-how programming for Christmas.

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