23 March 2013 5:14 PM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Critics have been stunned by the success of a History Channel drama appealing to millions of churchgoers

It describes fantastical events, yet appears on the History Channel. The characters are household names, yet the cast is full of unknown actors. Critics have queued up to slam it, yet Us viewers have flocked to it in their millions.

At least everyone agrees on one thing: a 10-hour mini-series based on the Bible is the most surprising television success of the year in the United States. Defying expectations that a simple retelling of the Bible stories, including depictions of Adam and Eve and Samson and Delilah, would not appeal to a modern television audience, the series has been creating headlines and major ratings figures.

More than 13 million viewers watched the first episode, featuring a cast of actors who are often so good-looking that scenes from the Old Testament can resemble a fashion advertisement. »

- Paul Harris

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