The Ninth Hour News

by Jane And Mark Lewis
Potted JAM
Copyright 1990, 2003 Jane And Mark Lewis. Email:



This was one of our most popular sketches in its day. It relied on Mark doing a very passable impression of John Cole who was, at the time, the BBC News Political Editor. He was renowned for his distinctive Northern Irish accent and his authoritative, impartial reporting littered with mixed metaphors.

We wondered what would happen if John Cole was reporting on Jesus' birth? This was the result. See also Sunrise TV.

The sketch is a 5-pot rating as others have used it successfully. However, in this current form it very dated (this version is the third rewrite from 1992). The BBC News isn't even on at 9 o'clock anymore! However, the principle remains valid and it could be successfully rewritten to match a more up-to-date political commentator (at the time of writing Andrew Marr surely?) and with some topical news items. 


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  • Anna Daptor - Newsreader
  • John Charcoal - Political Editor of the PBC


Anna is sat at a desk, John standing to the side with microphone at the scene.


Voiceover:  This is PBC1 [PBC=Palestine Broadcasting Corporation]....bringing you the Ninth Hour News with Anna Daptor....
Anna:  The headlines tonight.....
  • The Shekel is taken out of the R.E.M.
  • 2 Roman soldiers are killed in Northern Galilee,
  • Worsening traffic congestion causes chaos throughout the country, and
  • Rumours are flying that the Messiah has been born in Bethlehem.

Good Evening....

The Chancellor Yitzhak Lamont today pulled the shekel out of the Roman Exchange Mechanism - allowing it to float freely on the market.  The move came after the incredible market pressure of the last few weeks culminating yesterday in Black Wednesday.  The shekel closed at 2.347 against the Roman denarius.

Two soldiers of the Roman Security Forces were stabbed and killed earlier today in an ambush near Capernaum.  The Zealot Revolutionary Army have claimed responsibility.  The attack is seen as a reprisal after the recent security clampdown in Northern Galilee in which a number of Galilean civilians were killed.

As the whole country still seems on the move, due to the census, traffic congestion is worsening.  There have been widespread reports of traffic jams and overcrowded city centres.  Today there was a five mile tailback on the Jerusalem to Jericho road.  The manager of the Ben Hilton hotel chain today said his hotels were still unable to cope with demand for rooms.

But our main story this evening is the controversy that has been sparked by the birth of a boy in Bethlehem who some are claiming to be the Messiah.  We go over to Bethlehem now  to our chief political and religious correspondent - John Charcoal.  John can you fill us in.
John:  Well yes indeed Anna.  A few weeks ago a boy, Jesus Davidson, was born to a Nazarene couple here in Bethlehem - and there have been subsequent claims that he might, in fact, be the Messiah.  The main proponents of this view are a group of local shepherds who are claiming to have been told by over 50,000 angels that this is indeed the Messiah and that his arrival heralds the best news since the Bethlehem Rangers went 3:1 up against Jerusalem United.
Anna:  What about the feeling on the ground here in Jerusalem?
John:  As you might expect Anna - the city has been in uproar. Everyone from pauper to priest is talking about what this all means and whether the timing is right for the Messiah to be born.  Simeon the Prophet was quoted as saying..
"My eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all people.  A light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel".
This is pretty confident language from Simeon who clearly believes that this Jesus is the Saviour.
Anna:  What has been the official reaction from the government.
John:  Well, the reaction from the palace has been typically strong.  Herod is reported to have been "in a stomping rage" - and so, I have been told, he is planning to massacre all the young boys in the Bethlehem region to dispose of any opposition.
Anna: Is Herod MAD?!!!
John: He's absolutely furious, Anna.  Undoubtably displeased by being snubbed by an Eastern delegation who, after meeting the boy, left the country without returning to Jerusalem. Indeed thay left without even giving Herod any hint of where the meeting occurred.  Herod was then apparently tipped off by the chief priests that the boy would be found in Bethlehem.
Anna:  Is that where he is now John?
John:  Its difficult to say actually Anna.  His parents have been unavailable for comment and no-one has seen the boy for some days. Sources close to the family say that they are meeting behind closed doors to discuss their future.  Most believe that they will leave the country.
Anna:  John - you're there feeling the waters as it were - do you think that he poses a major threat to the present government?
John:  Well Anna if I had to come down on one side or the other I wouldn't!  Its too early to say, at this stage, whether the boy does pose such a threat.  I would say that he is is most likely to stay out of the limelight building popular support for some future challenge.  So, undoubtably a boy to keep an eye on and I suspect we'll see more of him in times ahead.  But, from the polarisation of views about him, already, he looks like one of those people who you're either for or against.
Anna:  What kind of leader would Jesus Davidson make?
John:  Well I just don't know Anna.  If he is the Messiah then of course he will rescue the nation, but I'm keeping my mind open as to how he would achieve this.  The Zealots along with the far-right of the Pharisaical Party would prefer the military option.  Those more left of centre in the Party, along with the Sadducees would seek a more pragmatic "restoration of Zion".  What I think is most interesting is what Simeon hinted at - that salvation could be for more people than just the Jews - which would be a very unpopular path to tread.   However, I do think that, at the end-of-the-day each one of us will have to make up our own minds about him.
Anna:  Thank you, John.
John:  Thank you Anna.
Anna:  That was the Ninth Hour News.  Shalom.

Copyright 1990, 2003 Jane And Mark Lewis. Email:

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