ITV is to screen a controversial new drama from the makers of Queer As Folk in which Jesus returns to earth as a Manchester City supporter.
In The Second Coming, the Messiah reappears in the shape of a video shop worker from Salford, played by Christopher Eccleston.
He stars as 36-year-old virgin Steven Baxter, found starving and bedraggled after spending 40 days and nights alone on the Yorkshire Moors.
Steven announces he is the Son of God and sets about convincing a disbelieving world by performing a miracle – which he does by turning night into day at Manchester City’s Maine Road soccer ground.
He then has five days to help the human race produce a Third Testament or face Judgment Day.
The two-part ITV1 drama is written by Russell T Davies, who caused one of the biggest TV controversies of recent years with Channel 4’s Queer As Folk.
The explicit depiction of the Manchester gay scene, including the opening episode in which a man had sex with a 15-year-old boy, provoked a flood of complaints and accusations that Channel 4 had “set a new standard of depravity for television”.
Eccleston, star of Shallow Grave and Gone In 60 Seconds, admitted viewers might find it shocking.
“Talk about risky projects – I think it’s fantastic,” he said earlier this year.
The drama, which also stars Bob And Rose actress Lesley Sharp, is one of the highlights of ITV1’s winter season and will be aired early next year.
Major dramas to be screened by ITV1 this winter include an adaptation of the DH Lawrence classic Sons And Lovers, starring Sarah Lancashire.
There are also new vehicles for the channel’s other big names Robson Green, Ross Kemp and Martin Kemp, who plays an undercover cop in the crime drama Serious And Organised.
Anna Friel stars in Watermelon, adapted from the hit novel by Marian Keyes, playing a woman whose husband leaves her hours after the birth of their first child.
ITV1 offers a real-life version of hit series Six Feet Under with Don’t Drop The Coffin, a fly-on-the-wall series set in a funeral parlour.
Serious documentary comes in the form of A Father’s Story, in which James Bulger’s father Ralph gives his first major TV interview 10 years after the toddler’s shocking murder.
The series For Better For Worse, revisits the marriages of eight couples first featured in a programme three years ago.
It charts the way their relationships have developed, taking in pregnancies, bereavements and separations.
New Heartbeat spin-off The Royal features some of the series’ best-loved characters alongside Wendy Craig and Michael Starke, better known as Brookside’s Sinbad.
Cold Feet is back for a final series and there is a welcome return for Footballers’ Wives.
Other shows back on UK channels this winter include A Touch Of Frost, Poirot, At Home With The Braithwaites and Ant And Dec’s Saturday Night Take Away.