Friday, March 02, 2007

God in the 700s

From the Guardian:

You can find heaven, and part with a small slice of your personal fortune, if you take a trip to the 700s. There are pastors on the phone, and gospel singers crying out in exultation as they make hysterical appeals for your cash on Sky channels 760 to 780. With names such as Inspiration and Loveworld, all but two of this cluster of evangelical Christian stations are beamed to the UK from abroad. In their midst at 765, however, sit a middle-aged couple from Surbiton chatting about the morning newspapers. It's a bit like a coffee morning in slow motion.

….Welcome to Revelation TV. For the past four years, the Conders have broadcast from a tiny jumble of a studio a minute - and light years - away from the sleek, amoral television companies of Soho and Charlotte Street. When not presenting - although sometimes they do these things while they are on live telly as well - Howard and Lesley direct, produce graphics, answer the telephone, book guests and order equipment. They are helped by their four children, the youngest of whom, Bethany, 11, has her own show, R Kidz, and a youthful staff of 15. Shunned by mainstream advertisers and barred by Ofcom from raising funds on air, the Conders have scrimped and saved and remortgaged their house to keep on broadcasting.

Now all that has changed. Despite the opposition of the Church of England, which fears the "potential for exploiting viewers' sensitivities", Howard Conder's lonely lobbying has paid off: Ofcom has amended its regulations to allow Revelation TV to ask for money on air. Is this the birth of British televangelism? Will well-fed pastors coerce money out of Brassic of Bolton while happy-clappy hordes charm cheques from Gullible of Guildford?

Not content with baseball caps and McDonalds, those crazy yanks are now forcing televangelist hair on us:

Sporting a silvery thatch of hair that miraculously thickened shortly after he took up Christian broadcasting, 60-year-old Howard Conder reads the Sun's front page on Robbie Williams…


erp said...

brit, are they sporting the false eyelashes and heavy blue/green eye shadow and think black mascara ala Tammy Baker? What a treat.

Duck said...

They're going after the Moses effect. That's all I can figure.

I'm just surprised that you've been able to hold them off for so long.

Peter Burnet said...

He insists there will be no more American-style appeals for rainfalls of cash to cascade from the heavens. "It's going to be done in a very tasteful way.

Which probably means it won't succeed. At my wife's perpetually financially-squeezed private school there are frequent meetings to discuss fund-raising. Just when everybody is getting creative and resolved, some "progressive" parents inevitably object to any new aggressive or creative idea on the basis that it is "too American". So we end up just holding the same tired fun fair we've done for years and we're still struggling, but boy, are we morally pure.

There can be upsides to these shennanigans though, especially for the elderly. Do any of your British fans remember a short, Scottish televangelist from the 70's/80's with a perpetual smile and the most syrupy tenor's voice imaginable. My late widowed grandmother had a chronic cough which left her embarassed to go to church and so he became her substitute. She just soared on his gooey songs about Jesus and roses and heather and she began to send him money and talk about him all the time. Much consternation among her kids who were very careful to treat her right!

Brit said...

Peter - you don't mean Harry Secombe do you?

He was Welsh, but otherwise fits the bill.

Peter Burnet said...

Oh no, nobody that talented. For some reason the names "Newt" or "Newton" are whispering distantly in my head. Think of a short, unbearably cheerful evangelist who looks like he springs out of bed singing "My Love is like a Red, Red Rose" every morning.

erp said...

Checking new browser

Duck said...

Sorry for the broken link. As I said, they're trying for the "Moses effect".