TVNZ sits on controversial Jesus doco

SUSAN PEPPERELL
Last updated 09:32 17/04/2011

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An award-winning documentary maker says he is "genuinely puzzled" about why Television New Zealand has not screened a programme he made last year that investigates the death of Jesus.

Jesus: The Cold Case, in which Bryan Bruce argues the Jews were not responsible for Christ's death, received a $204,000 New Zealand On Air grant. His book on the subject was published last Easter.

It attracted considerable controversy, with reviewers calling it everything from "shallow, speculative and unconvincing" to "extremely interesting" and "a worthwhile read".

Bruce contends the Gospels are unreliable and questions widely held beliefs about the understanding of Jesus' life. Anglican minister and writer Ron Hay said the book lacked credible scholarly foundation and was built largely on speculation, was cheaply journalistic in tone and incoherent.

Bruce, who has a long association with TVNZ through his documentary series The Investigator, said he gave his Jesus doco to the broadcaster last year. He then agreed to do more work on it and it was handed back a couple of months ago. "I expected to see it at Easter but it seems TVNZ has decided not to screen it then."

Instead Bruce will livestream the documentary on the internet on Good Friday - the day Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus. He has agreed with TVNZ that the livestreaming will not be available in New Zealand.

"I thought it would be a good idea to have both screening at the same time. My view, as a producer and director, is that it presents an alternative view of Easter, maybe there are some sensitivities about the programme because it says the Jews didn't do it. I am genuinely puzzled about why TVNZ has not scheduled it," he said.

A spokeswoman for TVNZ said, while there were plans to screen it, there was no timeframe for when that would be. Normal processes were being followed and they were currently considering where it best fitted in their programming schedule.

Last month the Broadcasting Standards Authority upheld a complaint against Bruce's documentary that examined the evidence against Robin Bain given the retrial of his son David in 2009. The authority said the documentary breached the fairness standard in its treatment of photocopier salesman Daryl Young. TVNZ was ordered to pay Young $1500.

- Watch the YouTube trailer of the documentary

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