The variety of specifically religious programmes on terrestrial television

When the television was first introduced to the United Kingdom, the main viewers were very religious. It was very common amongst the United Kingdom to go to church regularly and practise Christianity. There was no surprise that nearly all television programmes contained a religious element because most of society was religious or had respect for religion. Most of the UK was Christian therefore there were not many other people of different religions. It was therefore custom to broadcast Christian related programmes, and to say prayers at the end of each day.

All of this has changed now as Britain has become a multi-faith society, and many have lost interest in religion. Now a day, watching the television is regarded as purely entertainment and has very little religious input. Of course religious programmes have not stopped completely. Whether it is seasonal or weekly programming there is still a regular pattern of programmes with a religious theme. During weekdays up until approximately 3pm, many programmes such as ‘The Heaven and Earth Show’ or ‘Down to Earth’ may have a certain element to them that includes debate on religious issues.

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Many of these talk related shows are broadcasted at a time when few people are watching the television and are not therefore given peak viewing space. It is widely known that adults who have come home from work television mostly in the evenings. The most popular religious programmes are still being shown on a Sunday, the traditional day of rest for Christians. Programmes such as ‘Songs of Praise’, ‘My Favourite Hymns’ and ‘Sunday Night’ are examples. Many of these shows being described as “inspiration to peoples’ lives”. They are a combination of singing hymns, prayers and famous people’s reflections on life.

There are other programmes such as ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ and ‘Father Ted’ etc that are entertaining comedies. These are shown at high rated hours of the week, which subtly deal with religious issues. ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ tackles the issue of female vicars, where as ‘Father Ted’ is a comedy about priests who may not necessarily live by the rules. However some may say that these programmes are actually laughing at religious people. Both these shows seem very popular with the public, although this may only be because of the humorous nature of the programme and not because of their religious content.

Religious programmes may seem quite rare during certain periods of the year, but when it comes to a special time in the Christian calendar, time may be taken out of normal routine to specialize in a festival. For Example, at Easter it can be seen that many more religious programmes come on the television, along with the occasional feature-length story of Easter, wither animated or narrated (i. e. ‘The Story Tellers’). The same can be seen for Christmas and other festivals. Readings from the Bible can be very common at these periods of the year. There are also documentaries and coverage of festivals in the “other religions” e. g.

Kumb Melleur and the special programme on Islam in 2002. Overall, the number of religious programmes has definitely decreased; this reflects society’s attitude towards religion. Explain how one religious issue has been dealt with in a film or television drama, and discuss the whether the treatment was effective. Film: Life of Brian Religious issue: Laughing at organised religion The life of Brian is one of the most famous films performed by Monty Python. When it was released there was religious uproar as it is set the time of Jesus, and follows the mistaken identity of one ordinary man thought to be the son of God, called Brain.

Many people took offence to the film, as they believed that it made a mockery of organised religion, in particular Christianity. For Example- Halfway through the film Brian is mistaken as the Messiah, and his ‘followers’ pursue him for miles to see his ‘miracles’ which in fact are just co-incidental. This is laughing at people who follow any religion. It implies that they are mistaken and basing their beliefs on poor evidence. There are many other moments which are comical attacks on religion, and could be considered blasphemous. For Example- The Wise men, as described in the Bible visit the wrong stable and end up paying homage to the wrong child. They later realise this and correct their mistake. * People in the crowd mishear the teachings of Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount, and believe him to have said ‘Blessed are the cheese-makers’ when the Bible record Jesus as saying ‘Blessed are the peace-makers’ Many people do not wish to watch the film for these reasons. It can be argued, however, with the fact that in one scene Jesus is put in a good light. He is put across as the authentic healer of the sick, as we are presented with an ex-leper which was healed by Jesus.

The ex-leper is ungrateful to Jesus for robbing his livelihood, as he has now lost his sympathy from other people. Many religious people will argue that it presents Jesus in a poor light. However up until this point we have laughed at man’s perception of religion not actually at Jesus himself. Perhaps the most controversial moment in the film is the ending. Brian has been sent to crucifixion just like Jesus. In Monty Python’s version of the crucifixion it is made comical by adding the ‘suicide squad’ and the ending song ‘always look on the bright side of life’.

Religious people, who may have found the film funny, believe that they have taken it one step too far. Jesus put his life on the line, sacrificed himself for the need of others, and Brian is mocking it by singing and whistling happily. The effect of this film on the audience is varied. Non-religious people may feel that their belief in religion is backed up by this film. However, although it is controversial, Jesus is still put in a good light. Religious people may find it funny as they are laughing at Brian, but can be put down by the amount of swearing in the film.

The element of swear words in the film, also puts religion in a bad light. “Television always presents religious people as out of touch with the modern world. ” Do you agree? Being out of touch with the modern world doesn’t only mean that you don’t know about the latest technology or new fashion craze at that time. It also means that you are out of touch with many more of the simpler things to life now-a-days. Not being able to communicate or socialise well with other people can be seen as a reason to be classified as out of touch.

Not being able to understand what is going on in the world around us, or not knowing or being aware of events around us, can lead to becoming quiet and shy and becoming a recluse, therefore out of touch. Many people of the modern society see religious people as just that- Recluse. It is obviously very hard not to know where they get such a judgement when it is portrayed quite a lot. When thinking of a religious person that is widely known to a lot of people, and also labelled ‘barmy’, it is hard not to think automatically of Dot Cotton form Eastenders.

In every Eastenders episode it is hard not to notice her disappointing frowns and Bible quotes to strangers who look as if they don’t care. Many people will say that this is because she is very religious. I propose this: Compare Dot Cotton to a previous character off Eastenders, Sarah Hill. Is it not possible that it is just her age that has characterised her actions, not just her religion? Sarah Hill, a college student, was deeply religious and was seen as friend of the priests as she spent so much time with him or at the church. She herself was bossy, nosy and did indeed quote form the Bible a fair few times.

As you can tell she was deeply religious as well. Being that she was only 17/18 years old though did not automatically label her out of touch. Quite the contrary- she was seen seducing a young Robbie fowler which put her on the list of ‘sluts’. Surely a deeply religious person who doesn’t know anything about the modern world, wouldn’t try to seduce a spotty teenager? But Sarah Hill it seems already has. Everyone thought that she was an interesting character as somehow she was able to be religious and go out with her fair share of the guys.

This questioned whether she really was religious or not, but it was seen that she always ran to the church when she was having a problem, and did feel guilty for her actions. Going back to dot Cotton though, taking Sarah hill into account, it may seem that the reason Dot is as she is, is because of her age. No one really notices this as her religious side is much more easily to blame for her being out of touch. Sarah Hill left the series on a break-up with her boyfriend Matthew who had tried to sleep with her. She left because she had rejected him as she realised it was wrong and against her religion.

If she were not to be religious, would she have led a more exciting life and actually have all the fun that 17/18 year olds are supposed to have? Or was she missing out by being religious? This contradicts what I believe, as I think that Sarah Hill was in touch with the modern world. As my research continued I had yet to find a young religious person that wasn’t in-touch with the modern world. Then I found a character on Grange Hill. He was a 6th form student studying for his a-levels. He had been brought up by his very strict parents to be religious.

He was baptized and went to church every Sunday. He was very shy, and didn’t seem to want to interact with other people. When he met with other characters of the show he was often put down because of his religious nature. For a few weeks he was put on a big storyline as he got his first girlfriend pregnant. The girlfriend had previously pushed him into sleeping with her; this gives him sympathy from the audience, as it is seen to not be his fault. He tells no one about his dilemma and tries to hear the voice of God and get advice from the Bible.

The ending is traumatic for him, as he can’t take the pressure of going against his religions and becoming a father. He leaves a note for his parents one day, and they find him dead in the church, after he committed suicide. The note is a key element to this story as it contained his inner-thoughts and how he couldn’t stand the betrayal to his religion. This made him out of touch. This kind of portrayal is expected by most people, as the majority of the population believe that if you are religious you have nothing in your life except the Bible and Sunday morning prayers etc.

This, I believe, is wrong, as time is not taken to notice that religious people can be social and in touch with the world, it is a choice made by the individual. Another Example which would back up my opinion would be Alex from Eastenders. Alex was the priest of Albert Square, and as I have seen, was on good terms with everyone. He was very in touch and did not have to try hard to get along with everyone and socialise like a normal person. Towards the end, before he left, he was given the chance to prove that religion wasn’t everything he had in his life.

He had fallen in love with Kathy who had a child named Ben. Alex offered to ‘give up the church’ for her. This was surprising to everyone, as he had given an oath to God to not be with women and let the church be his only love. This can also make him seem not as religious as some, but after he is rejected he thinks about his actions and the consequences and feels guilty for his proposal. He leaves the square with the guilty feeling that he had wanted to give up the church. This seems very in-touch with the modern world, as he had socialised and fallen in love.

Even though he would have sacrificed the church for the woman he loved, he still would have been religious. All in all I think that religious people should all be given a closer look. It is not necessarily the fact that they are religious which isolates them – Dot had her age, Alex had fallen in love, and Sarah was being pushed into things she didn’t want to do. The character from Grange Hill was put in a very awkward position, and took it a step too far. I believe that religion doesn’t make a difference to who we are, and that if we are to be in touch or out of touch is a decision made on our part, not because we are religious or not.