The Second Coming (TV)

From Academic Kids

The Second Coming was a two-part British television drama screened on ITV-1 in the UK in February 2003. Widely hailed as one of the most challenging and thought-provoking dramas to have been screened on a mainstream British television channel for several years, it concerns the realisation of Steve Baxter (played by Christopher Eccleston) that he is in fact the Son of God, and has just a few days to find the human race's Third Testament and thus avert the Apocalypse.

It was written by the highly experienced and award-winning dramatist Russell T. Davies, and produced by the independent Red Production Company. The programme was originally commissioned as four one-hour episodes by Channel 4 in 1999, however when new executives took over running the drama department at that channel, they decided not to pursue the project. Davies and Red's founder Nicola Shindler took the project to the BBC who quickly turned it down, and so against all expectations it found a home on ITV-1, a channel with a reputation for producing mainstream, unchallenging, "middle-of-the-road" drama.

Screened over two successive evenings in prime time on a Sunday and Monday night, The Second Coming, despite its controversial subject matter, was widely hailed as a great success by critics and media commentators, with strong performances from Eccleston and his co-stars, particularly Lesley Sharp as Judy, his best friend and love interest.

The Second Coming won the Royal Television Society Award for Best Drama One-Off in 2004. The same year, it featured in two major categories at the BAFTA Television Awards, the most important TV awards ceremony in the UK. In the Best Actor category Christopher Eccleston lost out to Bill Nighy (for State of Play) while the production itself was beaten by Charles II: The Power and the Passion in the Best Drama Serial category.


In the plot, having realised that he is Jesus, Steve decides to indicate this to humanity by turning night into day over the small area of a football stadium, a feat which attracts the world's media. Steve then announces he must find the third testament to avert the apocalypse. Having failed to discover this, the people of the world hide in their homes fearing the world's end.

Steve then visits Judy in hope of trying to work out what the testament is, and Judy reveals to him that it is the record she is making of events. Judy, who is filmed night and day by cameras from the world's media around her house, makes spaghetti and laces it with rat poison, but announces this to Steve before presenting it to him. Steve/Jesus is persuaded by Judy that he must die, and moreover make it permanent (in the sense of not proceeding to go back to heaven upon death, but rather cease to exist), so that humanity fights for itself rather than relying on the evils of fundamentalism.

Judy was pregnant with Steve's child, but to avoid any religion grabbing hold of the child as some messiah figure, Judy has an abortion. Henceforth, the world goes back to normal, with a few people referring to Judy as "the woman who killed god", but she otherwise goes back to living an ordinary insignificant life, having married the policeman who guarded her despite everyone else leaving their jobs and posts in fear of the apparent apocalypse.

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