With a glittering cast and a coveted. daily slot. Radio 4 is soon to embark on one of its most ambitious projects: the year-long serialisation of'l‘he Bible. John (iielgud will read Genesis. followed by David Kossoff‘s Exodus. and actors lined up for future books include David Suchet. Bernard l lill. Michael Hordern and Hannah (iordon. The project comes as part of Radio 4's new package ofscheduling changes in which Religion doubles its present output to half an hour a day and is the brainchild of David Benedictus. who first conceived of the serialisation years before he joined the BBC: ‘It wasn‘t just (iodf he says. ‘there was a little bit of Mammon too I thought it would be a sensational success. but I didn‘t have the wherewithal! to do anything abouththenf

Notoriously headstrong. the Religious Broadcasting Department was not. apparently. peeved at someone else having a good idea about God. They agreed to be involved in the project. but disputed the choice of Bible: the Anglican Church is now committed to the New English Bible. which. avoiding words like ‘trespass‘ and ‘fornication‘. is deemed easier for everyone to understand. Actors. linguists and traditionalists generally preferthe 17th century Authorised. or King James. Bible. "There was a long and interesting debate on the relative vales of each version .' says Benedictus. 'After discussing‘a lot of possible solutions to the problem. we decided that the Drama Department would do the Old 'l'estament in the Authorised Version. and the Religious Broadcasting Department would do the New Testament in the new version. The New Testament has a great deal of theology and rather less narrative in it than the Old Testament. so perhaps it is more important for the version to be clearer.‘ The Drama Department have abridged and produced the series. while Religious Broadcasting have provided a religious consultant and undertaken to do ‘a little learned introduction' to each of the various blocks of books.

So what will the Religious Broadcasting Department do with its extra fifteen minutes once The Bible’s year is up? Maybe they can use the time to redress what many regard as the BBC‘s unfair leaning towards Christianity at the expense ofother religions. The idea would probably please David Benedictus. He suggests the Qu'ran as a possible follow-up. (Miranda France)

The Bible starts Mon 16, 10.15am. on Radi04


unannou- Soccer satire

You may not have noticed, but soccer has undergone something of a metamorphosis since the World Cup last year. The sport could even be said to be trendy again after long years of domination by thugs and old men sipping Bovril. The designer football fan is with us, and he giggles at fanzines, scorns commentating clichés and generally fits into the ‘New Lad’ mould. And now they have theirown TV - . y , show, Standing Room Only, an r." q irreverent paean to the last days of . . . t“ ,

jamming Dame, nature the alpseater Standing Room Only s presenter tmon O‘Brien stadia spring up to take the sport into the next century.

Standing Room Only takes the famine mentality onto the small screen, adopting a humorous and off-beat approach. Programmes will cover serious topics, and debates on suggested rule changes and the like, but the emphasis will be on fun. Comics David Baddiel and Rob Newman will be casting a topical, satirical eye over soccer events and Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell will draw a weekly cartoon strip with the help of Stan Hey, writer of the excellent Manageress series.

‘Standing Room Only is a new sort of football programme which is passionate about the game, but which can joke about it too,‘ says programme

Lyndon calling

Everyone knows about double-dealing and back-stabbing down Texas way. But the fictional activities of J.R. (God rest his soul) are small fry compared to the real-life shenanigans of Lyndon Baines Johnson. In a four-part Timewatch Special, Johnson’s political career is charted up to his ignominious defeat in his bid for re-election as President in 1968. Johnson always had the makings of a great American political leader: not because of any visionary policies or even as a result of fabulous oratory, but rather because he managed to get his mug on TV from the onset. This gives the producers a great source of archive material to draw on, as we see the young L.B.J. campaigning hard and long (he lost 40lbs in 42 days) when “" running for Congress in 1938. That was i' \‘ the start of a meteoric political career which saw him as Senate leader in twelve years, Vice-President after20 - and President after23. ' What makes the programme so fascinating is not the success-story side of the man but the fact that, in the great tradition of white Anglo-Saxon statesmen, L.B.J. was a crook. His friends, biographers and running mates all talk to camera with that wistful ‘he-was-a-bit-of—a-lad’ looki their eyes but proceed to tell us of

producer and ‘referee’ Dele Oniya. ’Hopefully this combination of humour and journalism will give fans something that has been missing from football on television, as well as attracting people previously not interested in the game.’ .

One of the pluses of the series will t surely be its presenter, Simon O’Brien, l better known as the late Damon Grant 1 from Brookside. His laddish 5 enthusiasm is a far cry from the feeble banter of Saint and Greavsie. In the first programme he settles down with a large takeaway and a stash of lager to watch the match with Glenn Hoddle, and poke fun at John Motson. This must surely be a good thing. (Tom Lappin) Standing Room Only starts on BBC2 on 16 Septemberat7.15pm.

ballot-rigging, opportunist policies and a man with no noticeable scruples whatsoever. Then there was the ego, which one of his closest friends . described as ‘massive’. Not only did he I have his initials embroidered into all of , his clothes, his wife (Lady Bird!), daughters, ranch, even dog all had the initials L.B.J. And this was the leader of the free nations of the world.

The series will also explore the contradiction of a man who extolled the virtues of provision for the poor in America whilst bombing the villages of Vietnam, 3 man who despised the Kennedys yet used John Kennedy’s death to get his own policies through Congress, and a man whose campaign against Bobby Goldswater for President in 1964 was so dirtythat it got the rules for electioneering changed. Whitewashing it isn't but intriguing it certainly is. (Philip Parr) Timewatch Special: The Life and Times of L.B.J. Johnson will be screened on BBCZ on15, 19, 22 and 26 September.

Lyndon Gaines Johnson


I Jimi Hendrix: Stone Free The Beeb commemorates l lendt‘is's demise. 31 years ago. with alook back at ltis lite and carrcc r: how he floured cony ention. how he plucked guitar strings with his teeth. how he met with a tragic end. liriet‘lapton. Jeff Beck. l’ete 'l ow llSL‘lltl and others share their (Radio I . Sat H. 2pm) I Saturday Playhouse: Tiger! Tiger! Miranda Richardson. Siobhan Redmond and Alttn Armstrong star in an adaptation of l\ an Benbrook's 195.1 cult novel about art inter-planetary war. set in a near-future world poptrlated by ‘tnaleontents. obsessives arid otrtsiders' and featuringamoral anti-herotiully l‘oyle. (Radiol. Sat 14.3..‘stlpml lThe Japanese Festival Sheridan \lorlcy reports lt'ont'l‘okyoon someot the artists and acts due to visit Britain during‘l'he Japan l‘estiyal Will Britain'sbiggest ey er celebration ol another country 's culture. Sumo wrestling. robots. Kabuki theatre it‘sallthere. (Radio 2. Sttn 15. lilillpml I Conversations with Historians A new seriesol six programmes in w hieh John Miller asks historians why tltcy were drawn to their field arid what relevance they feel it has to the modern world. starting with Sir Michael Howard. l’rolessor of War Studiesat Yale liltiyet‘sily. (Radio .1. starts Mon lb. 3.30pm) IWillYou Still Love Me Tomorrow? Part 4 in the six-part series about lernale \oeal groups homesinon Motown the Marvelettes. Diana Ross and the Supremes and others are featured in rare interviews. along with their music and ubiquitow lieeltives. ( Radio l.'l'ue 17. 0pm) I BestBehaviour: Oo Manners Matter? Should men hold open doors‘.’ Sltould women swear. smoke and get drunk" lsit all a load ol'bunkum'.’ Nigel Rees presents a new series on ‘modern manners'. interviewing oil-riggers. httnt members. sixth formers and otherntinority

groups. ( Radio~l. Wed l.\'.

ltlaml I Compromised Immunity Britain's first AIDS

play". written in 1985. has been dramatised in two

parts and stars Michael ('ashman (he of haw/finders ) as a mart dying in the isolation ward of a hospital unused to treating people with the illness. ( Radio 5. Starts Thurs 1‘). 0.30pm)


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