Bethlehem by Liverpool and Gravesend

Miracle on Merseyside - Liverpool remakes the nativity

The Virgin Mary comes from Knotty Ash, one of the angels used to be in Brookside, and Herod is a woman.

This version of the Christmas story, to be played out on the streets in the centre of Liverpool and broadcast live on BBC3 tomorrow night, has a cast of 300, including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, a technical crew of 150 and is produced by the BBC team responsible for last year’s Manchester Passion.

... After discussions with the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, the script’s writer Mark Davies Markham has modernised the traditional story. Mary, lacking both the traditional blue robe and halo, wipes tables in a Seaforth cafe. Joseph is an asylum seeker commanded to go to Liverpool to renew his visa. Herod is a woman and the shepherds are both homeless and sheepless. But there will still be a star and three magi for the show.

“The traditional story is so familiar that it can just wash over you,” said Markham. “I wanted it still to be familiar but to help people look at it in a different way. If they see it in terms of hope for humanity, that would be good.”

... Mary (Jodie McNee), a virgin who has been saving herself for when the time is right, is a bit surprised but tells Joseph (Kenny Thompson) “it’s the Lord’s baby, it’s sent by the Holy Spirit”. Joseph is unimpressed and angry.

“You’re just having a bit of a domestic,” explains director Noreen Kershaw as Joseph launches into There She Goes by The La’s.

Joseph heads across the river to the passport office. Mary follows on to the ferry and they sing Comedy from The Shack’s 1999 album HMS Fable. When Jesus is born, they duet on Beautiful Boy, written originally for the son of John Lennon rather than the Son of God.

“It’s a brilliant story to tell,” said McNee, whose previous Christmas performances include a role as a turkey in a school play. “It’s about community and loving generosity and about accepting people.”

The man’s a spiritual chav*.

But wait ... from a blog named Stuart’s Short Trousers (with thanks to Troy Southgate for the link):-

The Chav Nativity

There’s this bird called Mary, yeah? She’s a virgin (wossat then?) She’s not married or nuffink, but she’s got this boyfriend, Joe, innit?He does joinery an’ that. Mary lives with him in a crib dahn Nazaref.

One day Mary meets this bloke Gabriel. She’s like ‘Oo ya lookin at?’

Gabriel just goes ‘You got one up the duff, you have.’

Mary’s totally gobsmacked. She gives it to him large ‘Stop dissin’ me yeah? I ain’t no Kappa-slapper. I never bin wiv no one!’

So Mary goes and sees her cousin Liz, who’s six months gone herself.

Liz is largin’ it. She’s filled with spirits, Barcardi Breezers an’ that. She’s like ‘Orright, Mary, I can feel me bay-bee in me tummy and I reckon I’m well blessed. Think of all the extra benefits an’ that we are gonna get.’

Mary goes ‘Yeah, s’pose you’re right’

Mary an’ Joe ain’t got no money so they have to ponse a donkey, an’ go dahn Bethlehem on that. They get to this pub an’ Mary wants to stop, yeah? To have her bay-bee an’ that.

But there ain’t no room at the inn, innit? So Mary an’ Joe break an’ enter into this garridge, only it’s filled wiv animals. Cahs an’ sheep an’ that.

Then these three geezers turn up, looking proper bling, wiv crowns on their heads. They’re like ‘Respect, bay-bee Jesus’, an’ say they’re wise men from the East End.

Joe goes: ‘If you’re so wise, wotchoo doin’ wiv this Frankenstein an’ myrrh?

Why dincha just bring gold, Adidas and Burberry?’

It’s all about to kick off when Gabriel turns up again an’ sez he’s got another message from this Lord geezer.

He’s like ‘The police is comin an’ they’re killin all the bay-bees. You better nash off to Egypt.’

Joe goes ‘You must be monged if you think I’m goin’ dahn Egypt on a minging donkey’

Gabriel sez ‘Suit yerself, pal. But it’s your look out if you stay.’

So they go dahn Egypt till they’ve stopped killin the first-born an’ it’s safe an’that.

Then Joe and Mary and Jesus go back to Nazaref, an’ Jesus turns water into Stella.

* For the blissfully unawares European/American reader, a chav is what became of the English peasantry. Thus, Mr McNee’s modern Mary will most likely look like this:-

Naturally, she wouldn’t be called Mary. Diamond, perhaps, or Donna, Madison, Mcayla, Chantelle, Keeley, or the inevitable, completely sparkle-free Chardonnay. And rather than Jesus, she would call her baby son Ryan, Declen, Jay, Bex (of course), Baden or Ryder.

There is, though, no question that the identity of the father would be a profound mystery.


Good but been done.

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