Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

John Denney,  6 April 2001


Leave it aht!  After weeks of hype, the nation now knows it was Lisa wot done it.  Shot Phil Mitchell, that is.  You know, the obnoxious bloke in Eastenders.  Actually, the most obnoxious of the several obnoxious blokes in Eastenders, and lots of people thought he had it coming.


And the revelation that it was Lisa has been in the news on BBC and ITV, and a football match was put back by 15 minutes so viewers wouldn’t miss its start because they were glued to the telly.  There’s even been a forensic analysis of the case by former deputy chief constable John Stalker.


It seems that fiction increasingly overtakes fact in the way the media reports soap storylines. Many people are more interested in the lives of soap opera characters than in the real lives of their work colleagues or neighbours.  When Grace Archer died in an episode of The Archers on the wireless in the mid-fifties, the BBC was inundated with wreaths and floral tributes from heartbroken listeners to the Home Service.  And, do you remember, even Tony Blair was moved to appeal in public for the release of Deirdre from an unjust prison sentence?  The tabloid papers seem increasingly unable to distinguish between the fictional characters and the actors who portray them.  The cult of celebrity merges them into a blurry hybrid.


I guess a little bit of fantasy does no harm, so long as we don’t get it out of perspective.  Most of us have romantic flights of fancy about ourselves.  Apparently a common daydream among young girls is to faint in the street and be resuscitated by Prince William who happens to be passing by, and then swept up in his manly arms to life as his Princess in Windsor Castle.  Men - perhaps including Prince William - often fantasize about heroically saving someone’s life.


This Sunday is Palm Sunday, the start of what Christians call Holy week, leading up to Easter.  On Palm Sunday, we remember the crowds lining the streets as Jesus rode into Jerusalem, cheering and applauding this celebrity whom they thought would become their warrior-king to liberate them from Roman oppression.  But they were cheering a fantasy, for Jesus wasn’t coming to Jerusalem to be proclaimed King.  The reality was harder, and harsher.  Jesus had no romantic illusions.  Injustice and death lay ahead of him.  And unlike Phil Mitchell, Jesus didn’t deserve it.  But, even so, Jesus prayed for his killers: “Father, forgive them.  They don’t know what they’re doing”.  Sorted.  True.


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