Since receiving an internet-capable “smart TV” for Christmas, our household has hardly used the video recorder, and have relied instead on catching programs on the ABC’s excellent iView. Cathy and I just finished watching tonight the third episode of the Bletchly Circle, which, while gruesome, was quite good telly.
Someone somewhere commented that the BBC seems stuck in the 1950’s at the moment, and so, while perusing iView’s other offerings, when I noticed “Fr Brown episode one” on offer, I was not surprised to find that the BBC had translated Fr Brown (as if by TARDIS) into the 1950s.
Mark Williams – aka Mr Weasley – plays G.K. Chesterton’s famous priest-detective, and does a very believable job of it. This first episode was “Hammer of God”, which is loosely based on Chesterton’s own story of that title. I do mean “loosely”. There are things in this episode that Chesterton would never have written in a blue fit.
There are other slip ups. Fr Brown is being very ecumenical. While Chesterton’s original includes Catholics, Anglicans and puritanical Presbyterians, the TV episode has Fr B going to an Anglican vicar’s garden party and attending an Anglican funeral. Neither would have happened in pre-Unitatis Redintegratio days.
Something else that was entirely wrong was Fr B’s church. At the end of the first episode, our hero is depicted outside his “old English country church” welcoming mass goers. Only that would never have been the case, would it? I haven’t been to England, so I haven’t seen for myself, but I rather suspect that very few of the ancient churches of England would have been in the hands of the Catholic Church either at the end of the 19th Century, in the 1950s, or now. In fact, Chesterton’s original story on which this episode is based, makes reference to just this:
The shaken [Rev.] Wilfred was led away by Father Brown, who had an easy and friendly way with him. ‘Let us get out of this horrid place, Mr. Bohun,’ he said. ‘May I look inside your church? I hear it’s one of the oldest in England. We take some interest, you know,’ he added with a comical grimace, ‘in old English churches.’