After the Butler Act
By Freda Bruce Lockhart
LAST Sunday's Meeting Point grasped the nettle of inter-denominational reli
gious instruction according to the Butler Education act. Un der the chairmanship of Kenneth Harris the discussion group was explicitly and exclusively Protestant.
Sir Edward Boyle, Minister of Education, and Sir Richard Acland, could not be said to offer any cut-and-dried solutions to the anomalies implicit in the operation of the Act.
But under the candid title "We Teach Them Wrong" they agreed in recognizing the absurdities or worse inseparable from the present system of compulsory religious instruction in State schools by teachers who may be unbelievers and/or untrained in the teaching of the most difficult of subjects as they would never be for any other in the curriculum.
In exploring what was wrong they touched on some tentative suggestions—for an inter-denominational (Protestant) Board, or for more specialized teachers.
Inevitably, in agreeing on some of the present weaknesses, they seemed sometimes in danger of throwing out the ailing baby with the bathwater, of concluding that no religious instruction at all might be better than the kind often prosided.
This is not the place. nor a TV critic the person, to discuss the problem, But what is interesting on the television front. especially in the light of Mr. Wilson's (possible electoral-gimmicky) proposals for a "University of the Air" is that this programme provided yet another instance of TV providing a platform for discussion of urgent matters which could lead ultimately to practical policies in the life of the nation.
Otherwise the big guns of Current Affairs Programmes are still on holiday. Outlook Europe. for the fifth of its six programmes, had another nettle to grasp in the France of President De Gaulle.
'Fhis is still not a subject on which any Englishman at present can speak with much confidence, so it was not surprising that young David Dimbleby was not given anything very original or illuminating to say about this prickliest of problems.
Otherwise selective viewing has been very much a matter of picking a way through the various series. The experienced viewer finds that series very often depend where you come in. as it were— where you cut the cake. Far too many series and serials, light or grave, give the impression of starting off under-rehearsed and have to recover from a deplorable opening. Most of them do recover, but the rest of way is not all plain sailing and they may relapse.
Latest programme which seems to pursue this shaky course is the Sunday security serial No Cloak No Dagger. Its first instalment had,
thought. already pulled round, but last Sunday it again seemed to dither and daily, suspense languishing in the shallows of prefabricated romantic interludes.
ITV's series Love Story finished fairly honourably having kept up a far more consistent standard than most series, or certainly than might have been particularly expected of this one. In Monday's "Love in a Small Town", it was good to see that stylish young actor Tony Britton again with Judi Dench and Faith Brook, I was only sorry this last of the series of Love Stories seemed to belie the title in its attitude to marriage.
I am full of sympathy and admiration for actors and actresses who want to demonstrate their eersatility. But I fear that Miriam Karlin is still too much stained with her own uproarious success in The Rag Trade. She made a very gallant attempt to turn dramatic in Wormwood (by her co-star. Hugh Burdon). The effort was worth making, but I fear Miss Karlin will have to repeat it once or twice before she can escape her own strong image from The Rag Trade. This is one of the worst problems of television for its performers: and the reason why stars and their agents who can afford to do so try to limit their TV appearances to one or two a year.
Top funny man
It is difficult to know whether the Benny Hill show should be classified as a series. but I certainly thought the first of his new series put him again up front among our funny men.
Over the years he seems to me the most variously gifted, the most evidently hardworking and the one whose comic genius continually develops. I personally have always found him even funnier than Michael Bentine's Square World.
By the time Eve MacAdam returns and brings my holiday chore to an end I may have succeeded in timing my viewing to the CATHOLIC HERALD'S dateline. This week I again have to admit several lapses.
I failed. for example to get more than the tail end of Fr. Lesser's fascinating contribution to Christian Outlook on Network 1 hree. I only heard just enough of his African mission's hymns to wish I had heard more as any new talent to enliven hymns seems desperately to be welcomed. I shockingly failed to catch the BBC's programme from Edinburgh on Tomorrow's Theatre with such great names as lonesco, Jerome Robins and Joan Littlewood this was another TV programme of potential influence.
Lastly by indulging my appetite for film classics to watch Fellini's masterpiece 1 Vitelloni on BBC-tv, I missed ITV's repeat of Anthony Newley's Strange World of Gurney Slade. a reluctant sacrifice. and involuntarily but much more torte.hensibly ITV's Germany/euero and Sons.