fly Eve McAdam
THERE'S something I want to know about 'the BBC Saturday evening "Twist!" programme. Who enjoys it? The dancers? Surely not! These sadeyed twitching young people rarely smile : their faces are blank with concentration, and each one cavorts alone, and compulsively, as if to exercise some private devil. It is all so cold. so sad, with David Jacobs walking about like an abstract figure, a Mr. Death, out of a Coventry morality play.
Each time I watch "Twist!" i am filled with fear and guilt because I feel Iike an explorer peering over a boulder at a secret tribal fertility rite in darkest Africa. If I'm caught, I feel I shall be boiled alive.
What strikes me as singular is to hear my West Indian and African friends trying to disassociate themselves utterly from all connection with these primitive shuffles. They criticise TV and film producers who persist, they say, in presenting their countrymen back home in feathers and beads doing the Twist, I detect shame at this picture of themselves and an impatient desire to be taken for mature, cultivated adults, not savages.
After watching five sessions of "Twist" I see what they mean. And indeed, the young Africans and West Indians who visit us nowadays do seem to be outstanding. This was noticeable when a young man named "Philip" a West Indian, I think, was intro. duced to viewers during the second transmission of the British Conference of Christian Youth from Leicester during "The Sunday Break".
He stood out even though he appeared among a group of young people from overseas all of whom struck me as unusually intelligent and charming. "Philip" spoke impeccable English and what he said was worth hearing: the image of a nation, he said. tends. these days, to be distorted through propaganda. It is up to the Christian in every country to break through this harmful propaganda and correct it.
Incidentally — "Philip Whom? "Philip" from where? I do wish comperes would end this false chumminess on TV -and give people their surnames. in this instance it was Barry Westwood who might have given "Philip" his full name.
A script by a good writer, Margaret Hotine, presentation in the most consistently intelligent and imaginative religious slot, "The Way of Life" (Home, Sunday evening) and the subject. the warm. colourful, human "success story" of "The English Franciscans;" what more could one want for a triumphant programme?
But auspicious signs don't always work out and this programme was not a success. It was flat: flat as a school-boy's history CSSay, and for the reasons schoolboy essays are usually flat; far too much was earnestly squeezed in and there was little observable effort at kneading promising incident into creative form. At no point did one get the "feel" of this Order, of its "humble. lowly men," of their "cheerful, humble piety." It is not enough to state that the Friars of S. Francis constituted a "new phenomenon" in medieval England: this statement should have been translated into terms that would have projected a vivid picture in the minds of listeners.
We would have liked to hear more of the nine Grey Friars who arrived in Dover in 1224, but the script scampered on, compressing their journey to Canterbury, to London, to Oxford in a sentence or so. Here was an opportunity to tell the public about a remarkable Order but it could only have been done by selecting significant incidents, as significant details make a medieval tapestry glow and live.
David Lytton's play "The Cruel Necessity" (BBC, August 3) dramatises the last days in the life of Charles I. It is not to be cornpared with "The Killing of the King" by Hugh Ross Williamson based on the same poignant period of history. Williamson's play was produced by AssociatedRediffusion about two and a half years ago and it offered certain original theories on the reason for Charles' execution: for instance, that Cromwell deliberately doublecrossed Fairfax. Williamson has detailed knowledge of this period since he has spent 30 years studying it, and writing about it.
Many of Williamson's ideas are present in Lytton's play, but whereas. as a drama "The Killing of the King" can be placed among the few great pieces produced on TV, this one by Lytton can be considered only as fair. workmanlike stuff. Lytton's characters, unlike Williamson's, are less true to life and to history: his Cromwell is a falsification. He is shown as a man of little account, not a statesman whose sincerity of purpose, though at times obscure, was never destroyed by the zealous bigotry of his followers.
For Catholics the most striking personality of the week must have been the mother of the thalidomide baby, Mandy. "This Week" devoted its programme on August 2 to the moral issues facing women who have taken thalidomide and do not want to risk bearing a deformed child. Giving the Catholic view, Fr, Donald Proudman, O.P. said "no woman can ever be justified in Catholic eyes in having an abortion. Human life is sacred and the moral law can't alter because of a woman's desire in the matter." Mandy's mother agreed with this and said how proud and happy she was of her baby.