And on the seventh day God ended his work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all his work which He had made.
But by lunchtime, God had grown bored because He had forgotten to make television yet. And even if He had made television there would be nothing thereon worth him watching on the seventh day save the omnibus of Bleak House. And that would be on at a very stupid time.
And God said, It is not good that God shouldest be bored; I will make an amusing novelty item.
So the Lord God formed a Groucho mask of the dust of the ground, and breathed into its nostrils the breath of life; and the Groucho mask became a living soul and God saw that it was good.
And the Lord God named the Groucho mask Professor Lord Robert Winston and blessed him saying, Go forth and help others to be fruitful and multiply with thy pioneering genius in fertility work and reproductive medicine. And when I get around to making television, thou shalt be on it every other week:
And of every sort of programme thou mayest freely make; on children and twins and the body and the mind, even though some be pretty ropey, like the programme thou shalt make on How To Sleep Better:
But of programmes on Me, thou shalt not make them; for in the day that thou maketh a programme thereon, thou shalt surely have a stinker on thy hands.
And Professor Lord Robert Winston had dominion over the television and made programmes on children and twins and the body and the mind and a pretty ropey one on how to sleep better, and he was not ashamed.
Now, the serpent BBC was more subtle than any beast of the earth the Lord God had made. And it approached Professor Lord Robert Winston and said unto him, Yea, Groucho, hath God said ye shall not make whatsoever kind of programme thou fancy?
And Professor Lord Robert Winston said unto the BBC, I may maketh programmes on children and twins and the body and the mind and how to sleep better;
But of programmes on God, God hath said, Ye shall not make them, lest ye have a stinker on thy hands.
And the BBC said unto Professor Lord Robert Winston, Grouch! Ye surely shall not have a stinker on your hands, big guy. For God doth know that in the day ye maketh a programme about Him, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as a god, knowing how to make a programme on any old thing that just poppeth into thy head, and with a juicy budget guaranteed, my man.
And Professor Lord Robert Winston saw that a programme on God was indeed a classy-looking proposition.
So he went abroad as a vagabond upon the face of the earth. And he went east to the land of Iran and visited a city called Yazd, where he beheld a fire that has burned two thousand years, but he didn’t make much of it. And he came into the caves of Gargas in the land of France and he beheld the graffiti where the ancient ones had sprayed paint on their hands and he figured it might be because they were trying to communicate with the spirits, but who knows.
And he set forth into the land of Mexico and wandered the city of Teotihuacán talking vaguely about human sacrifice. And in the land of Britain he went among the dead at Highgate and said that the first bodies were buried because they grew smelly if thoust didn’t bury them. And in the land of India he mentioned the elephant-headed god Ganesha likes a bit of sweet pudding. And in the land of Sri Lanka he couldn’t decide whether Buddhism counts as religion or not.
And he wandered temples and mountains and clefts and secret places. And he wore a comely white suit and Panama hat. And exotic music played all the time on the soundtrack. And it was all nicely photographed. And sometimes he rode a bike.
And he roamed hither and thon grabbing whatsoever bits and pieces and stray thoughts on religion that so felleth in his path. And he had a bit on Zoroastrianism and a bit on the Aztecs and a bit on Hinduism and a bit on Buddhism and a bit on Islam and a bit on Christianity and a bit on Judaism. And he bound it all loosely as a pick-n-mix, and spake as though he had lots of points and links and conclusions when he had very few. And it stank, even though the 2,000-year-old Zoroastrian fire was pretty cool.
And the Lord God switched on His television in the cool of the day and He said unto Professor Lord Robert Winston, Hey, What is this that thou hast done? Hast thou made a programme on Me, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not?
And Professor Lord Robert Winston said, The BBC beguiled me and said it would be a good idea.
And the Lord God was wroth and He said, Because thou hast done this, Groucho, cursed is television. Thorns and thistles and celebrity abominations and reality and make-overs and Jimmy Carr shall it bring forth, and also more barren and dusty documentaries.
And so it came to pass that a beast rose up out of the sea, and the number of the beast was Channel 4. And it brought forth a programme called Married to the Prime Minister, and a woman, Cherie, who felt she had been given a rough time by the media.
And Cherie went slowly among other Prime Ministers’ wives like Norma Major and Clarissa Eden soliciting sympathy. And behold their amazingly antagonistic body language confirmed they felt none.
And Cherie cried out unto the Lord, What shall I do unto this people? They be almost ready to stone me; Amanda Platell sayeth mine thighs are as the thighs of Lennox Lewis!
But God had created Freeview and He was busy watching a documentary about Hitler and He did not hear her.
Published in The Sunday Herald, December 4 2005