AN ANSWER to prayer? As convalescence after surgery inhibited me from sharing corporeally in divine worship, I took this as a sign that, for once, I should engage in the dynamic of unfolding national events by watching Sunday Morning (BBC1). Sure enough, during the programme, an additional candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party had declared herself.
At the heart of the extended show were interviews with two leading contenders: Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid. How much did Sophie Raworth’s live interrogation add to our knowledge? Complete honesty and transparency were agreed by all to be crucial, but how trustworthy did they seem? Raworth pushed hard at Mr Hunt’s determination to cut taxes for businesses but not directly for struggling individuals; as for Mr Javid, why had he for years supported Boris Johnson’s leadership until finally turning, precipitating the avalanche of walkouts which forced Mr Johnson to resign as party leader?
The programme’s bombshell for me was Mr Javid’s revelation that the conviction that he must resign burst on him at the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast, on Tuesday of last week. How gratifying to find religion playing a key part in national righteousness. All else did not proceed smoothly along the paths of godliness: both candidates stated their support for the policy to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda, setting them firmly against the Bishops of the Church of England and surely most of its members.
“It’s posh and boring.” This familiar accusation levelled by “ordinary people” as a reason for not joining in was for once not directed at the C of E — but at the game of cricket. Freddie Flintoff’s Field of Dreams (1/3, Tuesday of last week, BBC 1) followed the great man: appalled by the fact that two-thirds of the England squad were privately educated, he returned to his roots in Preston, seeking to create a team from disaffected youth, none of whom displayed the slightest interest or enthusiasm.
It is a moving account of exactly how to engage with unpropitious material: non-judgemental, infinitely patient, wry, amused. He shared their stories and reinforced every positive spark. Already he has turned the tide; but how deeply will the new and foreign attributes of discipline and teamwork take root in these fragile lives?
On 13 January 2013, Hawaiians received an official mobile-phone message: they faced an imminent ballistic-missile attack. On The Morning You Wake (to the End of the World): Storyville (BBC4, Tuesday of last week) married virtual-reality production to personal testimony, drawing us into the panic, helplessness, and despair. The error was corrected after 38 minutes; but did staring mass annihilation in the face change people’s lives and values?