07 February 2019, The Tablet

The nets of theocracy



Fall of the Shah
BBC World Service

“An Island of Stability”, the first tranche of this panoramic nine-part drama (30 January–27 March), began on New Year’s Eve 1977, with the ominous words “Something is coming”. Here, half-asleep on Airforce One, his wife Rosalynn exclaiming at the view, we found the recently elected President Carter hastening to Tehran for a brief sit-down with the Shah, America’s ally in the region, over an agenda that included world peace and an uninterrupted oil supply.

Humble, God-fearing and suspicious of the cinematic glamour of his welcome (“What is the reality, Rosie?”), Carter – voiced by Nathan Osgood – was already proving a worry to his team. A “holy roller” explained the ambassador to an Iranian official. “The president has a tendency to take people as he finds them,” remarked a more worldly aide. The Shah, too (Bijan Daneshmand), had his doubts, remarking that “those cold blue eyes look straight through you”, and that he preferred Republicans.

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