I have watched an excellent programme since it first graced our screens in the Neolithic Era. At first, it was the theme tune, the giblets and the gore, but more and more I have found Casualty to be one those must-see things in a week (after Top Gear, of course).
This week, in the midst of more power-struggling, doctors-gone-mad, domestic violence, fears on the part of a nurse about his own Family Jewels (seed of a storyline for us blokes later, mark my words), a boob-job-gone-gammy and the momentary possibility of romance, there was an account of a couple who were Jehovah's Witnesses.
Now, before I go a step further, that since my initial frustrations about the Visitors to My Door, the lovely couple who visit me periodically to deliver their magazine, chat, are generous with the constraints on my time of my work and family (that is to say, they do not outstay their welcome, and a quite clear that they mustn't) - they have become a pleasant addition to my life. We will disagree on almost everything, but in the end, I respect what they are doing and why, and they respect what I do and why. The adversarial sense on my door-step is gone, and we can have very mutual conversations without the old angsts.
The story-line in Casualty this week depicted a pregnant lady and her partner, both brimming with hope for the future. She took a tumble down an escalator as a result, I think, of a problem with her blood and a faint. You can see where this is going. After the rather cynical (but I understand why) inclusion in the story of said mum-to-be being robbed at the bottom of the escalator, she emerged in hospital. They discovered that she was a JW and would not want a transfusion if the need arose. The need arose, catastrophically. There was then a very well played-out debate among the medical staff about the conflict of religious belief and medical need, and in the end, the woman died for the lack of the transfusion. Why this was good, and it was, was because for the first time, I heard the JW position on this issue presented clearly and without hysteria, in a balanced and debated form through the theatre of this programme. I understand now that for Witnesses, transfusions and the like are regarded as a barrier to a share in the Resurrection. Whist I happen not to believe that myself, I now have a greater respect for their perspective. The balance was drawn in the story by the partner, the father to the poorly baby, conceding to let him/her receive a life-saving transfusion. This wasn't a depiction of a religious person blinded by a faith position, albeit resolute in it. This was a depiction of a faithful Witness torn by life and death, faith and science. It was a story without judgement, without rhetoric, and without needless pathos. It seemed real, and generously portrayed.
You all know my feelings about the excesses of our TV writers. Some love to take lives and turn them into grotesque theatre for our delight, and others are just clumsy and puerile. This episode will be memorable because it took a real struggle and offered it to us realistically.