Heartwarming and entertaining television that gets to the heart of what Christmas is all about
The BBC’s four-part drama about the birth of Jesus got underway last night on BBC One with a gentle-paced portrayal of how Mary and Joseph come to be husband and wife.
The cliffhanger ending – which saw Gabriel tell Mary she had been chosen by God – has left us all in adequate suspense as to how the BBC will handle the rest of the Christmas story.
But so far so good.
Script-writer Tony Jordan (previously a writer for Eastenders) has done a stellar job with the script – sensitive, human and light.
It’s nice to see a much younger and meeker portrayal of Joseph (by Andrew Buchan) than in previous productions of the Nativity, while Tatiana Maslany manages to strike a perfect balance between innocence, warmth and maturity as the teenager Mary.
The unfolding story of their engagement and growing love for one another in the first episode nicely bridges the cultural, religious and epochal gap between the Nativity story as an event that occurred 2,000 years ago and an audience from all walks of life living in 21st century Britain.
Mary and Joseph's first tentative steps into a lifelong relationship with one another, their youthful uncertainness, innocent curiosity and easy laughter, will be things the modern-day viewer can easily relate to.
The carefreeness of the first episode has only got us looking forward with greater suspense to the next episodes to see how their relationship holds in the face of some pretty exceptional challenges.