Nostalgia Saturday DECEMBER 07 - Pages 4 to 5 -Use 9 pic 300 word template

Text for Saturday Spread on Nativity plays

Headline: Towns's secret agent angels in t-shirts sparked the wrath on an archbishop

Strapline: Barrow church youngsters decided that the show must go on despite strong criticism of new kind of nativity play which had a James Bond feel

THE world of espionage replaced the usual shepherds, wise men and camels in a Barrow nativity play 20 years ago and brought down the wrath of an archbishop.

The Mail, On Monday, December 13, in 1999, noted: "Almost 200 people packed a Barrow church to watch children act a controversial James Bond nativity play which outraged Anglican traditionalists.

"The play, Secret Agents, is a new version of the Christmas story based on the 007 theme.

"Thirty young members of St Paul's Church, in Hawcoat Lane, were among the first in the country to perform the play.

"They decided to go ahead despite criticism from officials at Lambeth Palace, headquarters of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey.

"Afterwards there was thunderous applause and pleas for a repeat performance."

Vicar, the Reverend Christopher Jenkin, said: "It was brilliant.

"It was one of the best things that has ever been done here and the audience enjoyed it very much.

"When the audience clapped you could not stop them.

"People asked for another performance to be put on but I think that with everyone being very busy at Christmas it would not be possible."

The article noted: "The play features the Archangel Michael dressed in black and other angles in t-shirts and baseball caps acting as secret agents for God.

"But none of the agents were carrying guns."

Before the performance, Mr Jenkin said: "Reactions have been very much shock, horror.

"I think it's ludicrous - it's a super play.

"It's getting away from the idea of angels being pretty ladies in white frocks - the Bible does not say this.

"The play is totally orthodox. It just has hints of James Bond.

"The fact that some people find it shocking is strange to me

"There may be guns in James Bond films but this is not the case for the play - that would be totally wrong."

The play had been offered to churches by the London-based Oasis Trust for homeless people.

A spokesman for Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, described the play as 'a little bit over the top' and as 'the most unusual nativity play' to be staged anywhere."

Our other pictures from The Mail's archive show some of the more traditional festive shows staged by youngsters in South Cumbria.