Even as selective images of Mother Teresa flash all around on television screens on the day of canonisation, one can’t blame the current crop of journalists who seem to have taken the bait. As one looks back it is clear that a systematic campaign to build a larger than life image of Mother Teresa had always been on.
This campaign was interestingly started by a well known British Broadcaster Malcolm Muggeridge who made a documentary on Mother Teresa titled “Something Beautiful for God”. The documentary was screened by BBC in 1969. He later wrote a book with same title.
Let’s see how Muggeridge manipulated facts to perpetuate the myth that Mother Teresa was something more than a human! He told the whole world that during making of this film he recorded probably the first photographic miracle! The miracle, according to Muggeridge was, that in very poorly lit “Home of Dying”, it was impossible to shoot due to lack of light but still they went ahead and shot the film. When they later looked at those portions of the camera film, he found clear impressions of a divine light which was highly luminous.
In the words of Muggeridge , “(It was)… luminous like the haloes artists have seen and made visible round the heads of saints. I find it not all surprising that the luminosity should register on a photographic film.”
Interestingly the truth was quite different. Renowned cameraman Ken Macmillan who headed the camera crew for this particular film (Something Beautiful for God) busts the blatantly hagiographic assertions of Muggeridge. Here is what Macmillan said : “During Something Beautiful for God, there was an episode where we were taken to a building that Mother Teresa called the House of Dying. Peter Chaferthe director said, “Ah well, it’s very dark in here. Do you think we can get something?” And we had just taken delivery at BBC of some new film made by Kodak which we hadn’t had time to test before we left, so I said to Peter, “Well, we may as well have to go.” So we shot it. And when we got back several weeks later, a month or two later, we are sitting in the rushes theater at Ealing Studios and eventually up came the shots of the House of the Dying. And it was surprising. You could see every detail. And I said, “That’s amazing. That’s extraordinary.” And I was going on to say, you know, three cheers for Kodak. I didn’t get a chance to say that though, because Malcolm, sitting in the front row, spun round and said, “It’s divine light!It’s Mother Teresa. You will find that it’s divine light old boy.” And three or four days later I found I was being phoned by journalists from London newspapers who were saying things like: “We hear you’ve just come back from India with Malcolm Muggeridge and you were the witness of a miracle.”
Christopher Hitchens , the author of “The Missionary Position” observed, “Ken Macmillan’s testimony came far, far too late to prevent the spread , largely by the televisual and mass media methods that Muggeridge affected to despise, of the reported miracle.”
Incidentally, Muggeridge one of the key spin doctors who helped to create the present image of Mother Teresa was termed as a “Serial Groper”. BBC historian Jean Seaton makes the revelations in Pinkoes and Traitors: The BBC and the nation 1974-1987, that renowned BBC broadcaster Malcolm Muggeridge “groped incontinently”,
Muggeridge, who served as a British soldier and spy during the second world war, passed away in 1990.Seaton also told “The Guardian” that Malcolm Muggeridge, the anguished voice of dissent of the time – was a groper.
In a letter to the British Newspaper “The Telegraph”, Malcolm Muggerdige’s niece Sally says Muggeridge was reportedly nicknamed “The Pouncer” within the BBC and was also described as “a man fully deserving of the acronym NSIT – not safe in taxis”.