By Eve McAdam
N OT since Easter 1961 when ABC presented the Hooper-Marvin Passion Play, A Man Dies, has there been a programme on religious TV worth a rave notice until last Sunday, June 16, when the BBC produced Lawrence Waddy's Job.
Gloriously fresh, in the tradition of Passion Plays, but not damped by it, this new musical Job with its cast of West Indians succeeded in a supremely difficult way; it created a religious experience for viewers, rather than presenting audiences with something about one.
To write effectively in this idiom, that is, very simply, melodiously, but with a cutting edge, must be very difficult indeed, but the ex-Headmaster of Tonbridge, the Public School, Canon Waddy seems to have the touch. His first effort, The Prodigal Son. seen on ITV in January, was good, but fob is excellent, and I hope the BBC will give viewers a second chance soon to see this Old Testament story in jazz, mime and folk song.
As for singing honours, it is scarcely possible to single out anyone among voices so rich and of such warmth of personality. George Webb in the title role might he mentioned and another, the singer in the part of the padre in the theme song, In the situation.
As for the white telephone from which the Voice of the Lord was heard by Job, what an unorthodox. but happy stroke that was, like everything else in this production by Christian Simpson.
Much as one would prefer to bury the rest of the TV week with its non-stop muck-raking of the Profumo affair, it cannot be done without some comment on Lord Hailsham's outburst during the Robert McKenzie interview in BBC's Gallery on June 13. As we were saying here, it's not only by what a man says these days, but how he says it on TV that the public is apt to judge him. Lord Hailsham felt deeply about the lowering of standards in public life, and possibly had a point when he said this was not a party. but a national problem. As a Cabinet Minister the public expected him to state his views temperately, indeed as Mr. Butler did in Church and State. the ATV programme on Sunday (June 16).
But Lord Hailsham allowed his feelings to get the better of him: he shouted. he scowled, he made an unprecedented attack on his interviewer who. throughout_ behaved impeccably. It was embarrassing for the public and cannot have done Lord Hailsham any good, particularly when compared to the gentle and tolerant behaviour of Mr. Butler.
If. on the strength of these TV appearances, it came to choosing between these two men as a future Tory P.M., the one who kept his temper would surely get the TV vote.
Malcolm Muggeridge's version of Ramsay MacDonald in Granada's new series, Men of Our Time (June 12) was a cruel and merciless presentation of a man who although in later life failed to live up to ideals which had been his strength for the greater part of his career, yet deserved better treatment.
Whilst there is a good deal to he said against the hypocritical refusal to criticise people recently dead, there is no excuse for giving such a one-sided picture as Muggeridge did of a man who did have his moments of greatness and certainly did a great deal to establish the Labour Party as a force in British politics. Viewers might well ask themselves, "Why does Muggeridge nearly always do this?" He seems unable to see any good in a person who does not fit neatly into the Muggeridge-view-of-society.
Farewell to the Vic is the kind of programme that the BBC nearly always does well. and did so on June 15, Old prints, interviews, commentary were designed, and succeeded, in bringing out how very much the Old Vic has mattered to all serious artists of the theatre. Above all. we felt the presence of Lillian Bayliss throughout. This programme will do much to bring home to the public how much the drama in this country owes to her, almost fanatical belief in the necessity for its survival.