Johnny Vegas’s Guide To Evangelical Christianity, Channel 4

by | Sep 11, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

The quality of this ambling, amiable documentary kept pace to the step with how interested Johnny was in seeking a solution to his incorrigible, debauched ‘sinning’, when he aimlessly wandered off into the panto character he enacts on Jonathan Ross our attention evaporated with it.

What was good about it?

• It was only after about 20 minutes that Johnny’s voyage began to stand distinct from a million other exposes of the venom in the evangelicals’ milk and honey benevolence. And this was when he attended a ceremony of a father and son who preached the mundane joys of worshipping Jesus Christ, yet seemed to do so with the aim of making people happy in their lives rather than leashing their philosophy. Johnny noted: “I felt envious of a lot of the people in there. They have something I haven’t got.” Hallelujah! A moment not wrapped up in a tiny ball of sugar-coated self-pity that we’ve seen a billion times before.

• Johnny followed that up by meeting up with some religious migrants who believe that they have a direct link to God with prayer and don’t need the middle man of a priest. They greeted Johnny warmly, and were ever so pleasant.

• Later he attended a service supervised by a pastor whom Johnny described as “clearly a good man – he knew his role was to soothe and cleanse, and not warn of the consequences of sin.” After a short chat with the pastor, Johnny stumbled away calling the meeting “lifechanging”. But sadly it wasn’t.

What was bad about it?

• In a programme overshadowed by the ominous influence of God, it was ironic that much of Johnny’s choices seem to have been made for him by a similarly potent deity – his director. As Johnny shuffled apologetically about his former seminary school where he once trained to be a priest, it was as if he had to be coaxed into each link so apathetic and drained of all enthusiasm was his voice.

• And after he arrived in Las Vegas before heading off to the more puritanical pastures of Colorado, he confided that “my director suggests one last taste of sin” as he launched into an evening of alcohol, smoking, strippers and gambling. But even this seemed forced as he slouched in a strip joint sheepishly staring at the floor as some women cavorted on the stage above him.

• The first stooge Johnny met was one of those unhinged morons who fervently follow religion not through any chest-bursting fidelity to God, but simply it allows an intellectual pygmy such as themselves to feel superior to others through a myopic belief that they have a keener insight into the ways of the world than any atheist.

• This particular stooge was called Tom who decreed that the geological enigma of the Grand Canyon was proof enough itself of divine intervention. Even a diabolically hung over Johnny managed to outwit his utterly futile ramblings.

• What wasn’t so clever of Johnny was to suffix his encounter with Tom with his own half-baked notions of what motivated Tom’s faith, thinking it “compact” (i.e. Tom’s too stupid to consume the sprawling wonder of evolution) yet not actually giving Tom the chance to refute this accusation.

• George Morrison, another almost banal hate figure the evangelical church coughs up like loosened lung cancer fronds. Johnny of course, probably at the behest of his director, dragged the conversation on to homosexuality, which is the quick way to establish any inherent bigotry. Morrison didn’t disappoint Johnny (and his director); lavishly and sanctimoniously scolding homosexuality by using the scriptures of the Bible as a shield for his own frothing intolerance.

• After his moment of enlightenment with the relatively compassionate pastor, Johnny was encouraged by his director (who by this point had metaphorically metamorphosed into a squat, rust-coloured homunculus and was perched on Johnny’s left shoulder), to enjoy a night of spiritual dissolution in the amoral wilds of Las Vegas. Something Johnny embraced, catapulting him back to the gnomish slob he was when he touched down from Britain, and pretty much rendering the whole escapade a futile exercise in half-hearted redemption.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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