Print | Email  

Documentary letdown

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2006-04-26

Leslie Bunder

Leslie Bunder

When it comes to complete tosh on TV, BBC 4's recent Philip and his Seven Wives rates as one of the worst made programmes to be shown on what is usually a high quality channel.

From the director's naive voiceover and lack of any questioning, this was one documentary that was embarrassing to watch. Maybe the amount of footage shot of mucking out horse stables was an indication as to what this would ultimately end up as - complete crap.

The Philip is the title refers to Philip Sharpe. A former DJ turned Jesus freak who in turn says he had visions and that one of them told him to become a Hebrew king and have more than wife.

His family defied belief in terms of their sad and pathetic lifestyle, one where Philip is obsessed with control and they themselves are obsessed with being manipulated and taken advantage of by him to fulfill whatever personal kink he has.

Philip Sharpe's background is that of a messianic rabbi, someone who believes that Jesus was the messiah, which of course goes against the basics of Judaism.

Director Marc Isaacs narrates this one hour documentary without any perspective. He takes for granted the term rabbi, does not question Sharpe's beliefs or why members of the family mention "yeshua" - a terms Messianics give to Jesus to make him sound Jewish.

There is nothing Jewish about this, other than Sharpe himself may have been born Jewish.  He does not represent any genuine branch of Judaism other than his own self-manipulated and self-interest.

I found it deeply disturbing that for a film director, Isaacs acted without putting anything into perspective. He should have questioned Sharpe better. He should have explained what Sharpe's beliefs were or indeed got Sharpe to answer them.

Isaacs claims that he himself is Jewish so surely he would have spotted that Philip Sharpe and his family have nothing to do with leading any form of Jewish lifestyle other than one which they themselves have made their own rules?

By not questioning, Isaacs has let down his viewers who will come away thinking that Sharpe is actually representative of not just a rabbi, but of a branch of Judaism.

Isaacs claims he spent the best part of a year with Sharpe, did he ever actually question any of the statements Sharpe and his family made about any aspect of Judaism and ask why do they claim they are Jews, when quite clearly, there is really nothing Jewish about what is going on in their lives.

Next time the BBC commissions a programme which is claimed to have a Jewish connection, I hope they actually understand the difference between being Jewish and living a fantasy lifestyle which has no connection with being Jewish.