Last night I watched the recent ITV production of Agatha Christie's whodunit The Pale Horsevia Virgin's TV On Demand service, which lets you catch up on programmes shown earlier in the week.
Now, I don't want to post any spoilers for those of you who haven't read the book of The Pale Horse, or seen any of the movies or TV versions of it, but I don't think I'm giving too much away by saying that the plot involves a group of witches - and doesn't portray them as being nice people.
To be honest, I can live with that. The book was first published back in 1961, when most people weren't very sympathetic to witches. Also, it is a crime thriller with occult overtones, so I wouldn't expect the murder suspects to be very nice or that any magical rituals portrayed would be fluffy healing spells.
Scary stories need evil characters and dark rites.
What I do have an issue with is Virgin's description of the recent ITV version of The Pale Horse as showing "Moderate scenes of paganism". That is simply inaccurate. The witches as portrayed in the book of The Pale Horse and the new ITV version are not pagans in any way. They are scoundrels performing black magic. You don't have to be pagan to do black magic and, in fact, modern pagan witches would never do such a thing.
So please, Virgin, get your facts straight and stop making out that pagans do black magic! They don't.
On the other hand, ITV should get applause for pointing out in its programme that hanging, rather than burning, was the main historic method for executing witches in England.
If you want to read the book or see any of the earlier versions for yourself, here are some links:
The Pale Horse (Agatha Christie Collection)
THE PALE HORSE