sat 19/09/2020

The Ark, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

The Ark, BBC One

The Ark, BBC One

Old Testament epic rendered as an animal-free northern soap

Shipbuilding: David Threlfall as Noah

There was a distinct lack of giraffe or spiny ant-eater or even ant in The Ark. The animals went in none by none in the BBC’s visit to the Old Testament. When the deluge finally came on, it was only the human race which was saved from the watery wrath of God. Our furry and feathered friends never got the call. They say don’t work with animals, but this was taking liberties with holy writ.

There was a distinct lack of giraffe or spiny ant-eater or even ant in The Ark. The animals went in none by none in the BBC’s visit to the Old Testament. When the deluge finally came on, it was only the human race which was saved from the watery wrath of God. Our furry and feathered friends never got the call. They say don’t work with animals, but this was taking liberties with holy writ.

Meanwhile theologians will be poring over the text for arcane signs which might reveal why this was on in Easter week, an area of the calendar when they generally tend to favour the last few chapters of the first four books of the New Testament. Schedulers move in mysterious ways. Perhaps it was meant for the first official day of the election campaign, as this was very much a biblical costume drama with Things To Say About Contemporary Society. Things like the excessive love of money, the housing crisis, and of course rising sea levels.

The flood was all over in something like 40 seconds

It’s sort of appropriate that two Noah adaptations have come in pairs. Noah’s Ark not long ago got the Ridley Scott treatment which meant the whole bit – a digitised menagerie, dialogue that goes clunk in the night, plus Russell Crowe wearing an important beard. This one starred Frank Gallagher (as in David Threlfall) which may be read as a chortling allusion to the drunkenness of Noah. “And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent” (Genesis 9: 21). That’s a dozen series of Shameless in a never-ending loop, right there.

Actually this Noah didn’t touch a drop. He was more of a temperance type, tilling the fields and telling his sons to knuckle down and keep their noses clean. Meanwhile they joked with one another about sex. Then Dad started behaving oddly and everyone squabbled in northern accents. It was like watching an omnibus episode of Inundation Street, one you've already seen. Tony Jordan, scriptwriter, started out on soaps and hasn’t strayed far from the footpath. 

Call me Old Testament but Bible dramas which portray Them as just like Us take demystification too far. “One of my friends is having a party tonight,” said Canaan’s new squeeze. She may as well have called it a rave. The whole portentous saga might have worked better if it hadn’t been so busy nodding and winking and nudging and just bloody well brought itself forward into the 21st century. In which the animals might not have been so sorely missed.

Ashley Walters (pictured above), last seen dealing drugs in Hackney, played a sort of celestial Michael Fish who appeared to Noah in the desert. “Do you think man will learn his lesson?” Frank Gallagher asked. “Time will tell,” said Dushane from Top Boy. The flood was all over in something like 40 seconds rather than the traditional 40 days. A damp squib.

Call me Old Testament but Bible dramas which portray Them as just like Us take demystification too far

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Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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Confused and misguided. What was that about? Is the central message that we should be in awe of a God that wipes out humanity unless we behave. Sitting uncomfortably between history and metaphor, and achieving neither.

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