Christians on TV (Andrew Graystone) #medialit

  • General
    • Vicar of Dibley
    • Songs of Praise
    • Eastenders
    • Big Brother Contestants
    • Father Ted
    • Ned Flanders
    • Rev. Lovejoy
    • Emmerdale – Ashley Thomas
    • Pentecost Service (Chris Moyles: All the things he was expecting to Christians to be – was better – happy, enjoying, good music…)
    • The Manchester Passion (3 years ago)
    • The Liverpool Nativity (2 years ago)
    • The God Channel & that kind of TV
    • Peter Owen-Jones
    • Dermot McCullough
    • C4: The Bible in 8 Parts
    • What do we look like?
      • Sex scandals in the Roman Church
      • Ned Flanders
      • Traditional Songs of Praise
      • Vicar of Soham, Cumbria
      • Father Ted
      • E.g. Tim & Jeremy Vine – not portrayed “as Christians”
      • The Archbishops
      • Vicar of Dibley
      • How do we feel about that? What best represent?
        • Those who were real/flawed is OK?
        • On TV Christians are generally really ‘unattractive’.
        • Mostly make you cringe… caricature
        • Christian men – portrayed – weak willed, effeminate in dramas
        • Dull spoilsports/no engagement with the real world, apart from:
        • Why no positive ones – tension works for news?
          • “Christians all get on with each other”… ?
          • Church – works if you’re there (works well on radio), but on TV hard to portray on TV – looks dull, or looks odd… so does it work on TV?

Religious Broadcasting: What is it for?

  • Representing a proportion of licence payers (Christians & other religion) – the content tends to be the kind of material that offers discipleship, so what other kind of content is there?
  • Understanding other people’s worldviews? Does it help us understand ourselves as a Christian society?
  • Does it belong in the mainstream (for wide audience)?
  • Does it belong in narrowcasting (interest groups)?
  • Tension – are you servants of the church or the audience?
  • Do we object to atheists making “Christian programmes”? (what is that programme?)
  • Tension – offer entertainment, or whether it’s content that’s more important?

Rev John Mayo – Rector of Whitechapel. Christmas Eve 1922 – first to speak on radio.

  • Sunday – church services, or musics, or talks by religious professionals. Assumed that religious broadcasting was to build the faith of believers, and evangelise to non-believers.
    • Katherine Cordeaux – campaigned for daily act of worship, still continues today – was “New Every Morning”.
    • Ordained ministers saw themselves as Priests on the radio – along came WW2 – did they critique or support the war?
    • – The Man Born to Be King – lots of division as to how Jesus should be portrayed (a WASP).
    • C.S. Lewis “Mere Christianity” came out of broadcasts: Church complained as he was a layman, and also because talks were scheduled very late at night.
    • 1948 – BBC seen as continuous teaching mission.
    • 1950s – TV more widely available. Is it OK to watch people praying? Is it OK to record worship? What is the status of a prayer that is pre-recorded?
      • Closed period – Sunday evening, 70% on religion. Home of religion on BBC was seen to be Sunday evening/morning – the one time, when that specific audience is not really available.
  • 1961 – Thought for the Day
  • 1980s – House churches, etc. growing, so led to programmes led by lay people, e.g. “This is the Day”.  V. small audience, and people weren’t participating as the programme assumed… (ring in, etc.).
    • No specific religious matter – against
  • 1990s – Decided to set up Heaven and Earth – religious programming for those who are not religious
  • Now: “The Big Questions”:
  • No quota on religious broadcasting, aside from ITV, 52 hours (middle of night). BBC – part of its charter.
  • Watching Programmes:
    • As a Christian working the media, do you feel that you can use the medium to present evangelistic material? No, if wrote songs, wouldn’t only write Christian songs – just produce the best songs that I can…
    • How does the Christian community make itself relevant to the WIDER community?
    • As a Christian working the media, do you feel that you can use the medium to present evangelistic material? No, if wrote songs, wouldn’t only write Christian songs – just produce the best songs that I can…
    • It’s not prejudice against Christians, it’s ignorance!!  They don’t know many Christians, or the Christian faith, and Christians haven’t gone out of their way to make themselves understood, and have developed a lot of niche broadcasting, which has sucked the talent out and away from the mainstream medias. Feeling from some in the church that working in the media is a bit “dodgy” – e.g. Christians working in medical field and teaching, lots of networks and who supports the media – if you need it start it yourself:, but not a noticeable engagement with the media from the mainstream church.
      • So what can WE do if we don’t work in the media – with little budget, etc…
      • People still spend more time on TV, and we need to engage with that mass culture.
      • Just because New Media is here doesn’t mean we ignore old media.
      • Offer to be a news outlet to local radio, etc. – not just for the God Slot!
    • What’s happening that we seem to be polarising into new media & old media!!
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Digiexplorer (not guru), Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing @ Manchester Metropolitan University. Interested in digital literacy and digital culture  in the third sector (especially faith). Author of ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age’, regularly checks hashtag #DigitalParenting.

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