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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 March, 2004, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
Archbishop's despair at TV soap
Dr Rowan Williams
Dr Rowan Williams said he likes The Simpsons
The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged Christians to reject the self-seeking lifestyle typified by the hit ITV television series, Footballers' Wives.

In an Easter message, Dr Rowan Williams said the programme portrayed a world in which good qualities like charity and fairness had been swept side.

Writing in Outlook, the diocese's newspaper, he said it represented "different kinds of selfish behaviour."

But the makers of the show said viewers rejected the values of its characters.

We're offering a portal to a world of untold wealth and riches, but we show that it comes with a price
Brian Park
executive producer

Executive producer Brian Park said Dr Williams had failed to understand that viewers enjoyed the soap without wanting to emulate the rich but unhappy characters.

He said: "There is a morality there that hasn't been picked up on by the archbishop.

"We're offering a portal to a world of untold wealth and riches, but we show that it comes with a price, that it doesn't buy happiness.

"We agree that the show presents a shallow, selfish, monetarist lifestyle.

"But I don't think that the vast majority of viewers are accepting or embracing of those values.

"I think the public says, 'Thanks, but no thanks.' They can see the characters are not happy."

Easter challenge

Eileen Gallagher of Shed Productions said: "I think he has made a good point. We wanted Footballers' Wives as basically an antidote to all the overblown celebrity we now see in society."

She said researching the programme, which has seven million viewers, had revealed a world that was often "shallow and money-obsessed".

Dr Williams has often drawn parallels from popular culture as metaphors for his religious messages and has said he likes The Simpsons.

But he said the characters in Footballers Wives treated each other as rivals for the same space, although God had given space to all.

The challenge at Easter was to examine how we regard foreigners and refugees, he added.



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