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Children Of The Gods, The (ITV 6 Jan 1979, Peter Jeffrey)

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In drama The Children of the Gods when their daughter Emma becomes involved with a strange religious cult Helen and John Vine are determined to break her free from it but Emma is equally determined that she is staying – forcing the Vines to consider desperate measures.

The cult insists that all contact with family must be cut off and Helen and John are convinced that Emma has been brainwashed.

The Daily Mirror of Saturday 6 January 1979 offered up a preview and a short interview by Kenneth Hughes with Janet Maw: ACTRESS Janet Maw soon saw the light when she began looking into the facts about some religious sects. Janet stars as Emma, a girl who joins a hard-sell religious group in THE CHILDREN OF THE GODS (ITV, 10.0). “Thousands of families have been broken up by different sects,” says Janet, who studied research material used for the programme. “Young people who join are sometimes asked to sell their possessions and give the money to the group. Like Emma, it could be that they are brainwashed.” Emma is introduced into her sect by an American selling candles In Oxford Street. She sells her car and hands the money to her new-found friends. Says Janet: “In real life it is often not known where the money goes or what businesses it is put into.” Janet, who starred with Alan Bates in the BBC serial “The Mayor of Casterbridge” and with Derek Jacobi in “Richard II” will next appear in a drama documentary about playwright Henrik Ibsen. She will be heard on radio soon, playing a new character in Radio 2’s serial “Waggoner’s Walk” a tough-girl reporter who joins the Herald. “I have been very busy lately.”

There was a positive review of the play by Hazel Holt in The Stage of 11 January 1979: THE recent horrific events in Jones-ville have given a grim topicality to Roy Kendall’s play. The Children of the Gods, (ITV, Saturday January 6, 10.0pm), by indicating the extremes to which religious cults can go. Mr Kendall has structured his play so well that we are given no special information but, by learning the truth as the characters do so, are thoroughly involved in the drama as it develops. Nothing is black or white. In the beginning the cult group (The Oneness of God), which the girl Emma joins, seems to be benign, even attractive, but, as events develop, we begin to see its evil and vicious side and come to feel with her parents the desperate necessity to rescue her from its influence. The arguments on both sides are vividly presented with force and emotion, culminating in the penultimate scene when the local vicar, played with power and intelligence by Roy Marsden, wrestles figuratively and almost literally for the girl’s soul.

Mary Peach and Peter Jeffrey, as the distraught parents, played with great subtlety, deploying every gradation of agony and frustration John Washerbrook as Emma’s sympathetic boyfriend, brought in to de-programme her but finally and irretrievably drawn into the cult itself, and Kenneth Watson presuasively presented the bland and smiling face of the commune’s leader. Janet Maw (confirming the impression she gave in BBC-2’s Mayor of Casterbridge that she was a very good actress indeed) made Emma totally believable. A great deal of the part was written on one note, but Miss Maw’s combination of sensitive response and sheer technique gave her the ability to round out the character into a painful reality.

production details
UK / ITV Network – ATV / 1×90 minutes / Broadcast Saturday 6 Jan 1979 @ 10.00pm

Writer: Roy Kendall / Production Design: Michael Eve / Producer: Colin Bennett / Director: Derek Bennett

cast
MARY PEACH as Helen Vine
PETER JEFFREY as John Vine
JANET MAW as Emma Vine
KENNETH WATSON as Emmaus
ROY MARSDEN as Reverend David Thompson
DEBBIE FARRINGTON as Bethany
JOHN WASHERBROOK as Judd
PENNY LEATHERBARROW as Canaan
ANDREW McNEENY as Ephraim