Monday, 17 March 2008

Press Reviews and Viewing Figures of 'The Passion'

Reviews of last night’s episode of The Passion have been generally good. Here are a few extracts…

Daily Express - Page 15 - Hickey - Fresh from plaudits which are already pouring in for his portrayal of Jesus in BBC 1's new drama The Passion which began last night, actor Joseph Mawle is preparing to star in a new play with a similarly Biblical theme at Islington's Almeida Theatre.

The Times - T 2 Page 19 - Greatest Story Told Again - Joseph Mawle, the hard of hearing actor from Soundproof, plays him as meek, mild and hangdog, as self-questioning as Hamlet. That had to be wrong. If He did not believe He was 100 per cent He was right how could He have persuaded everyone else? I longed for the panache of Dennis Potter, who took a grip of this story in his 1969 Play For Today: Son Of Man and made Jesus a political revolutionary. But the proof of the Passion will undoubtedly be its crucifixion scene.

The Independent - Extra Page 22 - Last Weekend's TV - Don't Pass Over This Easter Treat - If you believe Christ is your redeemer I can't so far see anything in The Passion that would have affronted that faith. And if you don't, its account of the politics of a week that was crucial in world history proved surprisingly gripping.

The Guardian - G2 Page 31 - The Easter story goes real-time in the BBC's down and dirty new adaptation - and it's brilliant. There's a vitality and realness about the whole thing that you rarely find with this story. A passion, you could even say, in another sense of the word.

The Guardian - G2 - Page 31 - picture - You could watch The Passion and totally forget that this story was central to a major world religion. And that's good.

Daily Telegraph - Page 30 - The Weekend On Television - A faithful retelling? - The programme provided exactly the kind of intelligent and engaging drama you'd expect from a series written by Frank Deasy and produced by Nigel Stafford-Clark.

Daily Star - Mike Ward On Telly - I must confess the whole thing goes way over my head. Try as I might during last night's opening episode, I couldn't see beyond a load of identical-looking beardy blokes in bits of old sack.

Daily Express - Page 51 - Television Express - Gritty take on Easter epic - A lavish enterprise with the production values of a feature film and a cast of known faces from the small screen who fit remarkably well into grimy biblical garb, it is clearly a serious attempt to set the Passion story in a convincing historical context, aiming at believers and not-believers alike.

Viewing Figures
The audience for episode 1 was 4.1 million. That is, to be really frank, a bit disappointing. But the big problem was that ITV chose to schedule against it in order to knock the audience. They ran the final of Dancing on Ice, which got an audience of 11.9 million. Even Eastenders, which was on immediately before The Passion, got a lower than usual audience because of Dancing on Ice. Such is show business!

The good news is that the BBC are running an omnibus of The Passion on Easter Sunday at 2.15 on BBC1. So people who have missed some or all of it can watch the whole thing in a run. The final episode is now confirmed for 7.30pm on Easter Sunday.

The popularity of Dancing on Ice is no doubt the main reason for lower than expected viewing figures, but a number of regular church-goers to whom I spoke last week were not intending to watch this new drama because "after all, we know the ending". I thought that it was a pity that they could not appreciate this opportunity to gain a greater understanding of at least the historical context. Unfortunately, I was unable to watch this first episode from the beginning because we had an unusually long evening service with a newly-returned mission partner as visiting preacher and it was quite late by the time I reached home. So I found it difficult to identify the characters and even in parts to follow the plot. I shall therefore be eager to watch episode 1 again on Easter Sunday. Thank you BBC.

1 comment:

Olive Morgan said...

I found that tonight's episode 2 was gripping to watch, giving me new insights into the houghts and feelings Caiaphas, Judas and the other disciples and Mary Magdalene which gave credence to the way that they behaved. I was very glad to have viewed this enactment of the events of Holy Week.