BBC’s new Nativity series

This week (Monday 20 – Thursday 23 Dec, at 7pm) BBC1 is screening a brand new peak-time dramatisation of the nativity story. It’s been retold by the genius Eastenders and Life on Mars screen-writer Tony Jordan and made by Kudos, the company behind Spooks.

From Radio Times: The drama, whose strong cast includes Neil Dudgeon and Peter Capaldi, opens with a familiar image: a shattered, heavily pregnant Mary, Joseph and a donkey en route to Bethlehem.

But then we rewind to an overlooked part of the tale: Mary’s parents arranging her marriage. The rabbi wants the 16-year-old (newcomer Tatiana Maslany) to wed a gummy old widower, but they insist that the holy man checks his storeroom for something fresher.

Meek carpenter Joseph (Andrew Buchan) isn’t quite what they had in mind. “At least he has teeth,” they sigh. The betrothed couple fall in love rather too easily, but of course problems arise further down the line when Mary – a virginal bride-to-be – finds she’s pregnant. What can she say – “I’m carrying the child of God”? Like that’ll fly.