By Marian Curd
ASSOCIATED TELEVISION this week an nounced plans detailing their latest religious programmes venture. This autumn they are to launch themselves at a vast new, audience : the nations juniors, the eight to 12year-Olds.
Secretary to the Church of The idea is to present a SunEngland, , Rev. H. PAastoLaalmitt■titcln
day morning religious magazine programme for this age group—a notion which, though it may deal another death blow to the Sunday Schools, is intended to reach out to the disinterested as well as the regular church-goers.
The aim is not to present a Sunday School of the Air. but to put over a mixed bag of material which will give young people enthusiasm for Christian ways of thought and behaviour.
And enthusiasm is the keynote of the woman who has been chosen to edit this tough and challenging programme, She is Miss Emmeline Garnett. a Catholic, and at present teaching at the Cavendish Square Training College, London.
And what makes her "stand out head and shoulders above the other applicants". as one of the Anglican Advisers generously remarked, the fact that she is full of ideas based on experience. She is an Oxford graduate. the author of many books for children and is shortly publishing an anthology of Christian verse. But how does she view this job? "I'm tremendously excited and sometimes scared stiff," she admitted. But her next remark pinpointed the fact that here was a round peg in what seemed to be a round hole.
She is not of the "I never look at television" category. "I just love television", she told me, "and I have had a good deal of experience with children of all kinds; I have taught in a secondary modern school in West London and in a mixed school in. New Zealand. I see these programmes as dispelling the 'wet and weedy' view of anything good."
I asked her if any method had been used to try and find out what children of this age would look at on a Sunday morning — without persuasion, but she pointed out that this is a new field of television. an experimental idea—the idea in fact of Mr. J. H. Cordle, M.P. (Bournemouth East and Christchurch). and himself the father of seven children.
Mr. Cordle in a Question in the House a year ago asked the Postmaster-General if something couldn't be done to offset some of the more drastic TV programmes — something which could try to make goodness attractive.
Building up on this idea the parliamentarian approached the entertainer -in the shape of Val Parnell. The result was that within a year the present series of 4-hour religious magazine programmes, due to start Sunday, October '7, was planned under producer Dilys Howell.
None of the programme planners were able to give details yet of specific items for the programmes but one of the religious advisers, Rev. H. A. Hamilton (Congregational) told me that it is hoped to have a family to make a continuity link—not a "Dale"-type family he hastened to assure Inc.
ATVs Religious Advisory Panel, Fr. John Bebb; Rev. Caryl Micktem and Rev. Prebendary Hopkinson, has been augmented for this occasion with the addition of Rev. Timothy Dudley-Smith, Assistant (Congregational) and Rev. Mother Mary Ignatia, of the University of London Institute of Education and Vice-Principal of the Cavendish Square Training College, London.
If this programme, to be seen on all regions of ITV, at a time still to be worked out. can awaken the imagination, give a sense of discernment and do a bit of characterbuilding into the bargain, it shouldn't do too badly. It won't have Andy Pandy stuff, it will have news and comment, drama, occasional quizzes (no mention of prizes). music, dancing; and the spotlight will turn on the worthiness of various occupations, and children will take part.
Controversy will, 1 was told, "be avoided", in this inter-denominational programme. "Children of this age group don't ask as many questions as teenagers". Don't they?