Pope Idol: The Pope-pickers could have made things a bit more lively

John Walsh offers some tips for next time

There was some good advice on Twitter today from the London Fire Brigade: “If you see black smoke billowing from anywhere other than the #Vatican today,” it tweeted, “give us a bell, it’s probably not a good sign #Pope.” But while we were waiting for the good sign from the Sistine Chapel chimney which finally billowed out at 6:00pm, we had to ask: is there not a more amusing way of choosing a new Supreme Pontiff than this?

Waiting for the white smoke is the dullest spectator sport in the world, even duller than crown-green bowls, more tiresome than regatta racing. How we pitied poor Ed Stourton, stuck in the Vatican for Radio 4, having to report in successive news bulletins that  nope, it’s still black (or, hang on, is that a tantalising shade of ashy grey? What does that mean?). How distracted we are from thoughts of religion and metaphysics by irrelevant questions: couldn’t the College of Cardinals, with all its fancy robes, afford a better chimney? The one it has looked like the chimney above a works canteen in Dagenham. And what did they burn that gave off those clouds white smoke? Marshmallows? Doves’ wings? Communion hosts?

It’s all over now, but next time, something really must be done to pull the papal conclave into the modern world. Think X Factor or The Voice. No, wait – Pope Idol. Can’t the front-running cardinals have a nail-biting pray-off in front of a shrieking arena audience, with Klieg lights frantically stabbing the Michelangelo frescos? Can’t we give the favourites a stern quizzing about how they’d behave as Pope in the event that a) the Queen suddenly outlawed all Catholics on pain of death by beheading; b) the outgoing Benedict XVI set up a rival, Mafia-backed papacy in Palermo; or c) Richard Dawkins came for talks?

Couldn’t the next election be conducted along the lines of The Krypton Factor? Throw in some quizzes and zip wires to liven things up. Even better, what about taking inspiration from The Hunger Games? We would love to see all the cardinals, on a whistle, running full-tilt in their mitres and canonicals to grab knives and bows and arrows, before stalking each other through a forest. Now that would be an election battle worthy of a major religion. It would be infallibly entertaining.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the Jurassic World trailer
film

Video: The official full-length trailer for the Jurassic Park sequel has dropped – two days early

Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environmentNepenthes zygon had been growing for almost a decade and helping to keep down cockroaches
News
This artist impression shows a modern-day Atlantis
news
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer snapped celebrities for 40 years - but it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive

£25000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an acknowledged...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Central London, Bank

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A truly exciting opportunity has ari...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C++, Ruby/ Perl) - £40k

£40000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C+...

Recruitment Genius: IT Systems Manager

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Systems Manager ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital