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Keeping It Real

For many the highlight of this second lockdown is the appearance on Netflix of Season 4 of The Crown. Viewers have waited a year to get their hands on ten new episodes and many have binge watched them already.

Season 4 covers the rollercoaster years of the 1980's and early 1990’s. This was a time of dramatic change politically, socially, and culturally.

Socially there was the rise of the influence of individualism and the dismantling of the idea of society.

Politically these were the Thatcher years, the troubles in Northern Island, the Miner’s Strike, the Falklands War.

Culturally it brought the birth of Premiership football and Botham’s Ashes triumph. Music went from the edgy roar of punk: The Sex Pistols and The Clash, and the birth of MTV in 1981, to the fresh voice of Britpop: with bands like Blur, Oasis, and Pulp singing songs that celebrated Englishness with a local accent.

The missiologist Dean Fleming would approve: “The word always becomes flesh with a local accent”.

This period also has the “fairy-tale” wedding of Charles and Diana, followed by its slow unravelling.

I was interested to hear why the makers of The Crown did not include the actual wedding in the series, an event which drew 750 million viewers around the world.

Emma Corrin, who plays the young Lady Diana in Season 4, said that people can google the wedding.

“We never re-create things just for the sake of re-creating them,” she explained. “I think if we do re-create a scene — like the engagement scene, for instance, when they do the announcement — it has to be because it’s linked to something that the characters are going through. It has to be part of the story.”

Yet this desire for artistic integrity does not change the pattern of the earlier seasons of The Crown. Much of the private interaction and personal conversations are a mixture of imagined reconstructions based on what is known, guesses on the basis of hearsay, and pure fabrication.

What is true? What is real?

Sometimes it hard to distinguish between what is authentic and what is phony.

I was chatting to a friend who is a television cameraman, specialising in sports events. I asked him what he thought of the crowd noises used at Premiership football matches.

He said that the sounds can only be heard on TV, not by the players in the stadium.

According to director of BBC Sport Barbara Slater, artificial noises improve the enjoyment of football fans watching games on TV or mobile device. Many viewers agree including former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton saying it was preferable to silence. Others see it as an artificial experience, rather like the canned laughter of old British sit coms.

Sky Sports, BT Sport and BBC have worked with FIFA 20 creators, EA Sports, to create a suite of club-specific crowd noises that are designed to enhance the atmosphere of a behind-closed-doors match. The bespoke artificial noise suite is known as ‘EA Sports Atmospheric Audio’ and each game will have an atmosphere tailored to the occasion. My friend says that generally this has worked well apart from the occasion in an Everton game when the broadcasters used chants from their rivals, Liverpool!

Many Christians look back with nostalgia to the pre covid-19 days of familiar faces and places, when meetings, coffee times and hugs were not virtual, and it was possible to sing together being led by a worship group that were up close and personal.

For those who have flirted with an online church-surfing experience, some have loved the freedom and variety, but others have felt that it lacks the immediacy and personal touch of a local church service.

Fred Craddock writes: “Nothing in preaching is so powerful as the appropriate word, the message contoured to the listener, rather than a general statement equally valid and invalid for all persons everywhere.”

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