By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.

BBC Nativity

I think this did what it said on the tin - gave us a nativity play which ended with a nice stable tableau not so very different from the one most Sunday Schools offer.  But at the same time it had some nice touches that challenge the saccharine sweetness of the familiar.  I am saddened that some Jews and some Christians have found it offensive, but I fear that says more about them than about the portrayal.

For me, the highlight was the portrayal of Joseph, always a bit part player suddenly made important, as he must have been.  His delight in securing Mary's betrothal followed by his wretchedness and anger when she turned up obviously pregnant and even his wrestling with the angel's message in his dream were convincing and valuable.

Although offensive to some Jews, the portrayal of Mary's treatment was an important aspect of the story, reflecting the society in which she lived and the scandalous nature of her pregnancy.  I fear anyone reading across from the characters in the story to real life 21st century Jews in diaspora is missing the point and perpetuating old antagonisms.  Yes, Jews have been wrongly portrayed by Christians and there are many shameful things in our history, but let's be grown up here.

Likewise the extreme Christian views that this is a liberalisation of the story bug me - it is no more and no less interpretive than any other nativity, and a darned sight better than most.  There were some clever touches such as putting bits of gospel in to the mouths of the magi that allowed the story teller to make this a theological telling.

The purists won't like the ending with kings and shepherds kneeling like a classic nativity set, but I'm not really sure what else we expected... it is too complicated to separate them out and try to interpolate Luke and Matthew as a coherent whole.  And would we really want Holy Innocents before Christmas..? I reckon not.

Overall I think it was a good effort, well delivered and avoided sentimentalisation of the story.  If it scandalised some, well that sounds fairly authentic to who JC was/is...


  • I agree wholeheartedly. I even found myself crying at several points to my surprise.
    The interview with Tony Jordan is great though will probably offend some

The comments are closed.