Friday, 29 March 2013

 The Wednesday Play - Up the Junction - agitprop drama

How the BBC helped to change laws and public opinion away from the Christian norm, part two

That extra flash of orange every three weeks
Two thirds of the Wednesday Play’s output was not interventionist but just conventional entertainment. However, once every three weeks or so came along a play that was so emotive and ‘progressively’ radical that it clearly had an effect on the values and beliefs of its viewers. One such play was Up the Junction (1965) it was produced by MacTaggart, and directed by Loach. Up the Junction was a direct attempt to influence public opinion and the political will on the side of David Steel’s Abortion Law Reform Bill. It did this by fusing fictional drama with a documentary feel and used the issue of back street abortions to achieve its aims. There was also a voiceover at one point by a doctor giving a sort of medical narrative in favour of legalising abortion to make it ‘safe.’ In fact the number deaths of women after the legalisation of abortion went up. The play also shamefully depicted the working class people of Clapham Junction as inarticulate, over-sexed, criminals who had no restraint and were only interested in having a good time. The production team seem to be saying through Up the Junction that without legalised abortion we will have poverty and chaos. It was almost fascist in its latent implication that these people should not be allowed to breed.
                 Up the Junction was based on the book of the same name by Nell Dunn but it was Garnett’s agenda that came through in the play. Garnett, the script editor, virtually hijacked Dunn’s script, ‘to meet his own heavily interventionist and propagandist ‘personal agenda.5’ Newman later gave Garnett special privileges like a higher budget and more time to make his plays. Newman “recognised in Garnett a man committed to his own brand of ‘agitational contemporaneity’ who was likely to win audiences and headlines and who would ‘provide the extra flash of orange every three weeks or so6.’” This mixing of conventional entertainment and the ‘extra flash of orange’ within a play strand is one of the elements shows the TV to be fundamentally flawed. Perhaps we can also say that the BBC is fundamentally flawed for it is very unlikely that a commercial channel would have been able to sell advertising space between scenes which depict as emotively as possible a screaming girl having an abortion. This play could only have been made at the BBC because of its form of funding. The BBC’s attempt to rescreen Up the Junction before Parliament was due to debate the abortion law reform bill was withdrawn due to the threat of legal action but in its place they screened 24 Hours which was a documentary on backstreet abortions, objectivity at the BBC was dead and buried.

A society changed by television programmes - The Catholic Church stands almost alone in opposing the Culture of Death
Melvin Bragg often laments that we do not have such plays today. Of course in the soap operas and in the general underlying ethos of today’s television, particularly at the BBC we do. It sustains the left/liberal ‘Politically Correct’ culture we have today particularly in education and the public sector institutions. However, the main battles for traditional values and beliefs were lost long ago. This latent left/liberal bias at the BBC not only sustains the Cultural Revolution but acts as a mopping up exercise against any pockets of traditional value resistance which survives in other institutions like the police, local government and the forces. The Catholic Church stands almost alone in her traditional values and beliefs and is often attacked by the media particularly the BBC for this reason.

5.6., MacMurraugh-Kavanagh, M.K., ‘Drama’ into ‘news’: strategies of intervention in The Wednesday Play’ Screen, 1997 Vol. 38 pt. 3, autumn 1997, pp.247-259.

Monday, 25 March 2013

How the BBC helped to change laws and public opinion away from the Christian norm, an example:

The Wednesday Play’s interventionist agenda

How the BBC employed drama to circumvent objectivity and promote the legalisation of abortion and homosexuality                            

During the 1960s there were serious socio-cultural conflicts taking place within British society. There was in fact a radical division between the aggressively radical groups and those who tried to defend the status quo. All the moral certitudes that had remained virtually unchallenged since the dawn of Christendom were under attack. There was a cultural revolution taking place but the battle for traditional values and beliefs were not lost right away. The questions asked by those who study the media are: did the media and in particular the television play have a significant role in changing society’s values or did it merely reflect those changed values? However, given the conservative nature of the general public, particularly in relation to family and moral values at the time, it is doubtful that the radical factions would have succeeded without the overwhelming influence of television. By analysing one of the most influential television programme strands of the 1960s, the ‘single play’ we can see that it decisively came down on the side of the radical change. We can also see that many of those who produced, directed, and wrote many of these plays had a radical interventionist agenda. Their strategies were to influence society and government legislation on the side of radical change, and they succeeded.
                There were various institutional debates taking place in the 1960s; one of these was at the BBC. There was in place at the BBC the concept of objectivity which was laid down by the Royal Charter. This made it illegal to express opinions on matters of current affairs especially in the proximity of a parliamentary debate. There were many working in the BBC who believed that drama was the way to circumvent the concept of objectivity. Men such as Sydney Newman, Tony Garnett, Ken Loach and James MacTaggart found that they could use the Wednesday Play strand of television drama as a platform to engage in a whole range of moral issues. These ‘single plays’ were newly commissioned original television dramas, some of which directly challenged society’s norms and had an interventionist agenda regarding these parliamentary and cultural debates. Theses plays did not usually support the status quo on issues of traditional values and beliefs.

The dawn of the television single play

The made for television single play started in the United States in the late 1940s and achieved much popular success by the 1950s. These plays were mostly serious dramas and employed playwrights such as Arthur Millar. They were sponsored by some of America’s biggest companies such as General Motors. However, serious plays that exposed the unsavoury underbelly of materialism or the walking wounded of the American Dream and commercial sponsorship were not compatible bedfellows. By the late 1950s the North American TV single play was in decline. As John Coughie puts it, “Seriousness was not the ingredient which advertisers believed could best oil the wheels of commerce: US television was not meant to produce sober citizens, but happy consumers”1. What was needed was a television station that by law was funded through public subscription via a licence fee. This station should be independent of government control or commercial considerations, where those of a Left/liberal persuasion could become politically engaged and produce dramas that indulged their culturally interventionist agenda. The British Broadcasting Corporation fits these criteria perfectly. It was however ABC one of Britain’s new regional independent commercial television stations that first successfully produced original television single plays. ABC had been mindful of the success of the North American single play and had brought over a producer from Canada called Sydney Newman in 1957 and put him in charge of their Armchair Theatre strand. Here Newman produced contemporary drama that had many regional and working class characteristics. Often known as ‘Kitchen-sink drama’, these plays tended to over indulge in gritty ‘naturalistic realism’, but Newman was not yet fully politically engaged. However, Newman as foreigner could look at Britain with a fresh eye. He became utterly fascinated by her problems and tended to dwell upon them in his dramas. When Newman saw Look back in Anger at the Royal Court theatre in London he developed the notion of ‘agitational contemporaneity’. He built up a team of writers that reflected the ‘New Wave’ in British literature including Alun Owen, Ted Willis and Harold Pinter. However, commercial TV was not the place for really interventionist ‘cutting edge’ drama.

Sydney Newman and Co, as the barbarians, at the gates of the BBC

                In the early Sixties the BBC were being beaten in the ratings war by the independent commercial channels. To try and remedy this, in 1963 they poached Newman from ABC and made him head of BBC drama and gave him free rein. There were those at the BBC, as in society, who resisted change and the revolutionary Zeitgeist at the BBC that followed.  The Oxford educated, BBC trained, producer Don Taylor saw Newman as a ‘vulgarian’, someone who saw no contradiction between ‘popular’ and ‘culture.’ However, snobbish this might sound today, perhaps he had a point. Don Taylor viewed Newman’s appointment with horror and in his autobiography ‘reveals uncompromisingly some of the cultural tensions inherent in the dawning of a new age, an age in which Newman emerges, dressed in skins, as the barbarian at the gates2.’ In fact, the BBC brought the barbarians into every home in the country. In their quest to chase audience ratings via contemporary drama, the BBC blurred the principles of objectivity that had been laid out in the Royal Charter.

Interventionist agendas at the BBC

Agitational Contemporaneity
                The Wednesday Play was transmitted on the BBC from 1964. In 1970 it became the Play for Today, and had been famed for producing ‘cutting edge’ ground breaking plays. With original plays such as Horror of Darkness, Cathy Come Home, and Up the Junction to name but a few. The BBC has been credited with television ‘events’ that changed society’s values that influenced the political will on issues like homosexuality and abortion. This accolade is given to the BBC through Newman and his some of his ‘radical’ team, namely Garnett, Loach and MacTaggart and their level of political and social engagement. Through Newman’s concept of ‘agitational contemporaneity’ they demonstrated the immense power of television when harnessing creative and cultural forces aligned with an interventionist agenda. Media historian MacMurraugh-Kavanagh saw this ‘agitational’ team’s power and influence through television drama devoid of objectivity as:
‘radical experimentalism in terms of form and content, venerated for its apparent refusal of public broadcasting objectivity in its direct intervention in issues of social legislation (including the legalisation of homosexuality and abortion), critics such as George Brandt conclude that ‘much of the history of British television drama is tied up with this programme spot’ Brandt’s statement expresses the widespread recognition that in the field of television drama The Wednesday Play was the genuine article.3
When asked what is ‘agitational contemporaneity’ in drama, Newman is said to have replied that it ‘causes people to take action after seeing it’4.

1,2. Caughie, John, Television Drama: Modernism and British Culture, Oxford University Press, 2000.
3. MacMurraugh-Kavanagh, M.K., ‘The BBC and the birth of The Wednesday Play, 1962-66: institutional containment versus “agitational contemporaneity”’ Historial Journal of Film, Radio and Television, vol.17, no.3, August 1997, p367.
4. Aldgate, Tony, Unit 21 British drama: the single play, Book 5 Film and Television History, 2003, Television Genres, The Open University, Milton Keynes, 2003. Also quoting Brandt British Television Drama, Cambridge, 1981, p.17

To be continued ...

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The BBC and No Popery in a digital age

Pope Francis - image Wikipeadia


Is the BBC’s depiction of Catholics and the Vatican similar to the treatment racists give ethnic minorities?


We all know that the BBC has not given the Catholic Church a fair hearing for many years now. Many Catholics believe several of the BBC’s main presenters are only interested in reporting on the Church if they can mention child abuse in the same sentence. Thus they create an association in the minds of the viewers or listeners; that words like Catholic, Vatican, hierarchy = dissidents or abuse and cover up. This has worked, as we know because it is getting thrown up in the everyday lives of many ordinary Catholics.
As Pastor Iuventus in the Catholic Herald put it “Lest their [the BBC] audience fail to make this connection they even assert the self-fulfilling prediction that these events will cause people to ask themselves whether there remains a culture of abuse and cover-up at the highest level in the Vatican. It’s the digital age’s equivalent of the most reactionary No Popery, based on innuendo and fear. For comment on such matters the BBC wheels out a succession of people who openly dissent from Catholic teaching particularly on sexuality, to give the “Catholic” reaction to the events unfolding. It’s most depressing” (Catholic Herald 1-3-2013).
It is also very frustrating that many famous media Catholics who tend to attack the Church and her teachings often appear in Catholic publications. It is these people, those who take the Pill (excuse my pun), who get wheeled out by the BBC when Catholicism is in the news, as during the recent Conclave. Each has a shopping list of changes they want to the Church’s teachings that usually agree not with the Christian standpoint but with the modern secular media. Is this another symptom of the institutional anti-Catholic bigotry that lies at the heart of the BBC? For by using many dissident pundits they are attempting to pressure the Church into accepting their own particular perversion of the human condition.

Un-dead Media Catholics and the Culture of Death

In particular media Catholics are very useful in pushing the various canons of the Culture of Death. These un-dead media-cultivated Catholics do after all speak for the ordinary un-dead Catholic who slouches in front of Satan’s Tabernacle - the TV. The un-dead Catholics have their views, knowledge and beliefs digitally transfused into their conscience by the media. The Un-dead Vampire Catholic mines the Catholic world for fame and profit, and makes a good living out of attacking the Church in the name of Luv. But didn’t Judas betray the Lord with a Kiss? Those of you who would like to do further reading on a Professional Media Catholic might like to visit the excellent blog post on Peter Stanford by Dr. Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society.

Pope Francis SJ and the Counter Reformation against the secular media

The Jesuits -from Wikipeadia
There has been a media Reformation of social attitudes which began in the sixties. Homosexuality, abortion, contraceptions, ‘Gay’ adoption seem to be the post modern media-promoted norm, and traditional family values are dead even in most ordinary families. During the Reformation of the sixteenth century many countries turned away from the Catholic Church. This was not because the people of those countries wanted to stop being Catholic but because their leaders found Catholic teachings inconvenient. Hence they found it useful to support dissident Catholics. It is also noted that in those countries affected by the so-called Reformation which allowed the Catholic Church to state her case in a free and open way, the majority of the people returned to the Catholic faith. Only those countries that applied severe oppression and violence towards Catholics and their priests stopped this return to the one true faith.  The most successful priests of the Counter Reformation were the Jesuits, of course. Perhaps now that we have a Jesuit pope he will re-kindle that old Jesuit enthusiasm for Catholic teachings, and the Jesuit Order will once again regain its past glories, and we will have a Counter Reformation of the Secular Media.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

12th Prayer Crusade to start on the opening of the Conclave

You do not need me to ask you to pray for the next pope I know, but please pray that the next pope understands the media and just how powerful it is; and that he may be good and strong and able to stand up to the media and secular governments. Also that he may bring to task Catholic dissenters and Professional Media Catholics who make a living out of attacking the Church’s teachings especially on issues like abortion, contraception and homosexuality.

Members of CUT and the Crusade of Prayer regularly engage in spiritual combat to counter the effects of the media and the cult of celebrity. But anyone may join us in the 12th Prayer Crusade for the new Pope that he may fully understand the media and that through its decadence and dissipation it is ruining civilisation; a civilisation that has been built upon Christendom and truth.

The media of course are not interested in the truth they only want sensation perhaps they should follow these guidelines which have recently been published by Zenit.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Pope Leo XIV – the Lion of Africa

The next conclave
In your prayers for the next Pope, remember to ask the Holy Spirit for a strong Pope who can stand up to the secularists especially in the media. In fact the Twelfth Prayer Crusade, to start at the beginning of the Conclave, is for just this purpose. Many are praying for their own particular favourite. But how about this:

Pope Leo XIV – the Lion of Africa
It is clear that the media and the liberals in the Church do not want a black Pope. Not that they are particularly racist (though I do wonder sometimes); it is just that most Third World Cardinals are very conservative theologically and morally. The African Cardinals are particularly strong on traditional family values. The African Cardinals have told the do-gooders of Europe that condoms are making the AIDS problem in Africa worse; they are also strong on the Church’s teachings about homosexuality. So in my dreams and in my prayers I hope for a Conservative African Pope who will scare the liberals in the Church and in the media. I’ve already given him a name: Pope Leo XIV – the Lion of Africa, for he will be fearless in proclaiming the Gospel to secularist Europe and America. There is always a tendency to think “now that I have said it, it will not happen”. There has already been a film called ‘Saving Grace’ 1986 with a Pope Leo XIV (I have not seen it so I can’t comment) and then there is all this talk about the last pope – however I was hoping and praying for Cardinal Ratzinger at the last Conclave.

Farewell to a wonderful Pope
As I was so happy when Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope I would like to write few words on the end of his pontificate. Having looked back over the past eight years I feel nothing but gratitude; for despite the media’s liking for only the difficult aspects of the modern Church, and its non-reporting of modern Catholic martyrs, it has actually been a good time for the Church in the wider world.  The Catholic Church is the largest religious organisation in the world with 1.2 billion Catholics. The Church may be under pressure in Europe because of the more sinister elements of modernity, but in the world in general we continue to grow. Tired old Europe may have long ago lost its soul and abandoned Christendom just as it is now losing its economic potency to the emerging economies; it has lost its faith and is losing its dynamism - perhaps the two are linked?

What did Benedict mean by ‘Technological Prometheanism’
One person who never lost his dynamism was Pope Benedict; he always astonished with his ingenious speeches and sermons that even the secular media could sometimes not resist quoting. Who could forget his sermon just before the last Conclave when he described the world’s media-promoted Zeitgeist philosophy as being a dictatorship, specifically a ‘Dictatorship of Relativism’. His strong support for marriage was like that of no other world leader. He kept up his incredible output right to the last. An example of this was to Cor Unum last January in which he discussed modern man’s penchant for Technological Prometheanism. He was referring to man’s use of science to play God by manipulating the genetic structure of humanity and other organic life; - he was making the comparison with Prometheus in Greek mythology, who stole fire from heaven. Prometheus was eventually punished by the gods for his pride and impertinence. However, as the editor of Inside the Vatican said, Pope Benedict is saying incredible things, yet no one seems to be listening. ... Benedict is “standing watch on the rampart of our once-Christian society, and raising an alarm about the terrible dangers he sees for humanity, but he is being, for the most part, ignored.” The secularists did their evil best to pull him down but it was impossible for you can’t pull a truly good man down.