Bi­ble pro­duc­ers avoid preach­ing

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

PRO­DUCER Mark Bur­nett stayed clear of cast­ing well known faces for the The Bi­ble be­cause he did not want to dis­tract from re-telling the great­est story ever told.

That’s not to say that some of the ac­tors in the epic minis­eries will not be recog­nis­able to Aus­tralian view­ers.

Nonso Anozie, who plays Xaro Xhoan Daxos in Game of Thrones, played Sam­son in Tues­day night’s episode and Fin­tan McKewen, who played Amory Lurch in Game of Thrones, played Ekosh.

Bur­nett’s ac­tress wife and co-pro­ducer Roma Downey plays Mary in four episodes but may be bet­ter known for her role as the an­gel Mon­ica in the long run­ning se­ries Touched by an An­gel.

But in the main, Bur­nett wanted view­ers to ab­sorb the char­ac­ters in The Bi­ble and not just see a fa­mous ac­tor play­ing a bib­li­cal fig­ure.

‘‘We thought it would dis­tract . . . th­ese are the most fa­mous sto­ries in the world and we wanted peo­ple to be able to ex­pe­ri­ence them fresh,’’ says Bur­nett.

‘‘The only ac­tor, cer­tainly in Amer­ica, that is re­ally well known is my wife who plays Mary . . . but in ev­ery other case it’s all fresh.’’

Bur­nett and Downey took four years to bring the 10-part se­ries to the screen.

Along the way they un­der­took an ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion process and can­vassed the thoughts of a num­ber of lead­ing Chris­tian groups be­fore the 40 writ­ers started on the script.

Among those the pair con­sulted were Catholic car­di­nals, evan­gel­i­cal church lead­ers, Pres­by­te­ri­ans, Protes­tants and the Anti-Defama­tion League.

‘‘In the end we had to carve a path that we felt was most con­nec­tive be­cause it’s got to be a good tele­vi­sion show that ap­peals to ev­ery­body,’’ says Bur­nett.

He tried to re-tell the story as ac­cu­rately as it is writ­ten, es­pe­cially in the Old Tes­ta­ment, to make sure the se­ries had cred­i­bil­ity.

‘‘Even as be­liev­ers we tried to be as ob­jec­tive as pos­si­ble,’’ Bur­nett says.

‘‘The Old Tes­ta­ment is full of dark­ness, mis­takes and wars and it needed to be that way to make the ar­rival of Je­sus bring that light.

‘‘We have not tried to tell any­one how to feel . . . there is no talk­ing head telling you should think this or that.’’

‘‘We just wanted to tell the story.’’

The Bi­ble: Tues­days, 9pm, Nine, NBN.

Roma Downey as Mary, mother of God

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