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EDITIONS
 Monday, 27 January, 2003, 12:12 GMT
The Second Coming
Newsnight Review discussed ITV1's new drama, The Second Coming, staring Christopher Ecclestone.



(Edited highlights of the panel's review)

BROWN:
It was like an awful shaggy dog story that vaguely keeps you going because of the third testament, what is going to happen at the end? The ending is completely banal, like you get in a fifth form essay. It was pathetically boring, like the Night of the Living Dead, a science fiction thing, with incredibly pompous overtones, mock theological. Christopher Eccleston is too dour to stick with for such a long time. It was incredibly well done, especially the celebrity inserts, I was pleased to see Germaine Greer employed as one of the celebrities, it was very well done but it was utter rubbish.

TIM LOTT:
I totally disagree, I think it was a great piece of TV. I could not believe they pulled it off, because I thought it would be ridiculous, and even with Christopher Eccleston, who I have not seen in anything bad, but I was not sure he could get away with it. It has some fantastic moments in it. I was laughing out loud on many occasions, but it was disturbing. There are cheesy bits, when they have swarm of locust sound effects when the devil figures appear, which is a bit silly, but on the whole it works. There is a great line when he is delivering his peroration on the day of judgement, and it is being delivered across the world, the BBC take it off because he swears.

LAWSON:
There is a fantastic central joke, which is that Christ comes back and chooses Manchester City ground, rather than Manchester United, and you imagine the rage of Alex Ferguson at having failed to get the signing.

JARDINE:
It is brilliant. The brilliant performance is not Eccleston but Lesley Sharp, and it becomes her vehicle. She plays his girl friend and she is the one who solves the riddle of the third testament and she is the deus ex macina of the resolution of the entire thing.

LAWSON:
Chris Eccleston: what about his performance?

JARDINE:
He was a bit staring eyed too much of the time.

LOTT:
He was great when he was normal.

LAWSON:
It is a huge challenge to bring off the idea of what it would be like to be a video shop assistant who suddenly decides he's God.

LOTT:
He is never God-like, he is always a video shop assistant.

JARDINE:
I think this is great documentary drama. It pulls off what the project did not pull off, partly because it is filmed so brilliantly. The use of video and surveillance cameras and the use of playback is fantastic.


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