In the lead up to Christmas, the ‘Sunday’ programme on Radio 4 challenged its listeners to write a version of the nativity story lasting no more than 30 seconds. I sent in an entry and it was read out on the radio on Sunday 27th November 2005 as an example of the kind of thing they were looking for.
The BBC made three mistakes.
a) They wrongly assumed the speaker was supposed to be Vicky Pollard from ‘Little Britain’. If it had been I would have included at least one “yeah but no but”.
b) It was read out too fast, hence lasting 25 seconds when it should have taken a more leisurely 29.
c) There were other good contributions, some better than mine, but the overall winner was in my opinion a very poor choice. It went something like “It’s a baby. Who’s the Daddy? God knows.” Aside from not utilising anything like the full allotment of 30 seconds, its punchline is very similar to a line from my much superior entry. (You can tell I’m still not fully recovered from the injustice of it, can’t you?)
If you want to hear for yourself how the BBC handled it, you can listen to this mp3 version which includes a brief introduction by the announcer, or this one which is just the monologue.
Regardless of the pros and cons of the BBC attempt, this monologue is certainly intended to be heard not read. It comes across much better on the ear than on the page.
Notes for performance:
The Reduced Nativity needs to be read by a young woman in her twenties as if talking to a friend. It should not be gabbled too quickly. You ought to be able to finish within 30 seconds whilst maintaining clear diction.
[see also The Reduced Easter Story.]
The Reduced Nativity
So I’m like “How many?”
and he’s like “Two – no better make that three”
and oh my God there’s a baby!
and it’s like right there in the trough where the cows feed
and next thing there’s these shepherds pushing past
and I’m like “Hoy, I’m trying to get a proper count here!”
and then there’s these three turn up on camels
and they’re like “Where’s the King of the Jews?”
and I’m like “No way is this going to fit on my census form”
so I just put two adults, one child.
Who on earth the kid was – God knows...
where the form said ‘other relevant information’ I just put a cross.