I have a confession to make: today, because I had left the tv on, I watched ‘Doctors’, the BBC soap opera.
It’s about a medical practice in a fictional town called Letherbridge (near Manchester), and each program, so I’m told, has a few sub-plots, and today my interest was piqued.
I promise I won’t watch it again. Honest.
I wouldn’t normally watch it, but the fact that it opened with a druid enticed me to watch further. It is summer solstice today and this topical theme on ‘Doctors’ (entitled ‘The Longest Day’) required further ‘research’, and so I watched the program for the next thirty minutes.
So here’s the story: It opened with an older man talking to his teenage son in a forest clearing or large back garden, and it was clear that a ceremony was being prepared. See header photo – from the BBC episode. The older man was a druid by what he said and from the ‘tools’ and symbols and decorations around him.
He said that to complete the preparations he need to take something from the Church grounds! Cue sinister music, perhaps? Well, in some circumstances tv programs like this might do that, but not this time.
I have to go and get a key element for your initiation, if I can get it out of the Churchyard’. Quote from ‘Doctors’, ‘The Longest Day’ episode.
But, what did he need? A skull? Some bones? Steal some Christian relics? It all sounded so mysterious.
Next we see this Druid in the Church building, and in comes dear Mrs Tembe. She is the doctors’ receptionist at the local practice, a devout church-goer, and a wise but sometimes too-straight-laced lady. She askes him, politely, what he’s doing there.
No trouble. But, a conversation ensues, and the scriptwriters have done their home-work, and a wonderfully informed and entertaining subplot unfolds. The Druid introduces himself and explains his path; dear Mrs Tembe listens intently, non-judgementally, and accepts the basket of organic fruit he brought to the Church as a gift. He explains the fact that some Druids are an amalgam of nature-based beliefs and Christianity or other beliefs.
The man continues and says that he’s noticed mistletoe growing in the Church yard and would like permission to take some for a ceremony, and Mrs Tembe agrees to ask the Vicar.
Had this been the product of scriptwriters who had encountered, perhaps, Dungeons and Dragons, or episodes of Hammer House of Horror, it might have been bones the Druid had wanted – because there are many sources that depart from the truth, and for the sake of an enticing tv fictional program some are happy to write scripts that mislead people about druidry. But, all our Druid friend wanted was permission to take a little holly. My first ‘happy feeling’ was the innocuous nature of the dear Druid’s request. Wonderful. No stealing. Nothing sinister. Just a simple request, and a gift to the Church of fruit, come what may.
I can offer you home-grown organic fruit and vegetable. It’s yours without or without the mistletoe’. Quote from ‘Doctors’, ‘The Longest Day’ episode.
Shortly after this, when the program returns to that subplot, there’s dear Mrs Tembe in the forest or is it a large back garden, with a basket of mistletoe. A gift from the local Church. Wonderful.
Okay, she encounters the Druid with his son – the son’s mother is going to Canada that evening with that young man, and this has come like a bolt out of the blue to his father, the Druid, who is preparing that evening to welcome his son, officially, into the grove. Words fly. Again, Mrs Tembe excels – I’m sure she was in Dr Who for a program or two.
Mrs Tembe listens to the father talk about the aspirations he has for his son. My second ‘happy feeling’ was that the program showed the plight of a son ‘torn’ between his parted parents, and the youngster wanting to please both, but unable to do so. Mrs Tembe ‘rescues’ the situation by saying that the son, now grown up, must decide his own destiny and both parents must accept it.
‘…then you are going to have to trust him’, says Mrs Tembe. Quote from ‘Doctors’, ‘The Longest Day’ episode.
The scriptwriters sincerely captured the fact that people – whether Christian or Druid, or of some other faith (or none) – have challenges, and particularly parents sometimes have to make tough choices. Mrs Tembe assisted the Druid guy to make a choice (and his parted wife, too) to let their son decide without any pressure. It should come as no shock to discover that Druids and Christians are human, too. And, being human is okay. This was my third ‘happy feeling’. Druids and Christians are human, too! And so, that subplot finishes.
‘You have taken a different path from the one I would have you take…I allowed my own selfish desire to cloud my judgement…Wishing you a safe journey and great joy in your new life…Blessings, your father’. Quote from ‘Doctors’, ‘The Longest Day’ episode.
It may seem strange, but am I so pleased, that a soap opera program like ‘Doctors’ can be so informational and correct, contain a captivating and lively subplot, be so ‘human’, and show that a Druid- Christian commonality and dialogue – where one honours and accepts the path, the Way of the other – is possible. And, that was my fourth ‘happy feeling’.
‘And like me, he believes that this place has a great deal of power.’ Quote from ‘Doctors’, ‘The Longest Day’ episode.
Obviously, the Truth can proceed even through soap operas.
Well done Mrs Tembe, played by Lorna Laidlaw (and I’m sure she was in Dr Who for a short while), and well done BBC soap department.
PS: I’ve since found out the scriptwriter Was Tina Walker, so well done, Tina Walker, too.
‘When I finally stopped struggling, I guess it left room for something else’. Quote from ‘Doctors’, ‘The Longest Day’ episode.
PPS: In the story, the son actually decided to stay with his father and go through with the initiation ceremony.