Sunday, 10 April 2016

It's the nature o' th' beast

I didn't need my blood pressure tablets for today's The Big QuestionsNo holders of unfashionable views were fed to the lions for once and there was no Verona-style brawling in the studio either. 

The programme discussed Shakespeare and the Bible and the panel featured lots of professors, including Professor Stanley Wells. Everyone treated everyone else respectfully and everyone enjoyed themselves. Intelligent, entertaining discussion followed - especially after people started forgetting the 'big question'. It was all very civilised. (Those lions must be feeling hungry, poor things).

That 'big question' though was a typically provocative one: "Is there more truth in Shakespeare than the Bible?"...

...which points up something blindingly obvious about The Big Questions: its makers want it to be provocative, to raise people's blood pressure. It's good for the ratings and it can generate light as well as heat (though that's usually more in theory than in practice).

And it's not as if they aren't even open about it. Nicky Campbell called himself an "agent provocateur" today. And when Shakespearean rapper Akala observed, "Obviously the question was set up to kind-of diametrically oppose people", Nicky replied, with mock horror, "Not us!!"

Being provocative, therefore, is the nature of the beast...though who the programme is being provocative against may suggest it can be a somewhat timid beast. 

"The nature of the beast". Now, is that Biblical or Shakespearean in origin? Apparently neither:
 colloq. the nature of the beast : the (usually undesirable) inherent or essential quality or character of a person, event, circumstance, etc.
First appearance: 1678 John Ray's Collection of English Proverbs : It's the nature o' th' beast. 
Incidentally, my favourite Shakespeare quote is Hang there like a fruit, my soul/Till the tree die! (from Cymbeline) as Imogen rushes to embrace her reunited future husband and he responds tenderly, passionately.

I just thought I'd share that with you.

1 comment:

  1. "Art made tongue-tied by authority" would be a good motto for the BBC these days.