TVItis a great pleasure to be able to congratulate Hugh Ross Williamson and all those associated with him in the production of "Gunpowder, Treason and Plot."
I say this with little or no thought for the Catholic slant in the interpretation. I have no sympathy with the apparent attitude of the TV critic in a contemporary who expected good things because Mr. Ross Williamson was said to be "Catholic in all but submission."
The gunpowder plot is a matter of history, not apologetics, and in this matter my faith lies in the writer's historical ability and integrity, not in his religious views.
He has in fact been studying for three years the problems the plot raises, has written a book on the subject, as well as articles, notably in The Month.
But all this would be useless if he was unable to write a good piece of drama, and Sunday's play was essentially that. The tradition, the fable and the myth surviving in the guys and bonfires of November 5 are propaganda and have little to do with more plausible historical interpretation-the full truth will never probably be known-gives the dramatist
a chance of letting men and women act as human beings.
Nor have we any reason for supposing that Catholics then differed from Catholics today, save in their greater courage. Here Catesby. Lady Catesby, Guy Fawkes himself, and above all the Jesuit priests are recognisably people with whom we Catholics today could join in conversation and argue on common grounds.
My only quarrel perhaps is that Cecil was made rather more sinister than the historical record warrants, but this may have been due to the very fine acting of Dennis Arundel!. This is a case where talent and historical integrity have been put before millions at the service of truth, and Catholics should be grateful.
A good show brings the best out of those who take part in it, as the above proves. Tuesday night's "The Teddy Bear" was another good play of its psychological thriller genre, but recent days have given us little else.
Even Eric Barker for once was disappointing, while Alan Bullock was given far too little help in getting over his long monologue on Russia and her intentions.
There was a curiously stale air about the return of "What's My Line?" and I can find little in the advance programmes worth drawing attention to.