DO you ache to know more about the politician and preacher that was Rev Ian Paisley Sr? Then be of good cheer. All three episodes of THE HOUSE OF PAISLEY  are now available on BBC iPlayer 

The first episode  presents us with the ‘preacher, populist and politician’. The usual controversial incidents feature: the Maura Lyons case of 1956, where a 15-year-old West Belfast Catholic girl climbed out the window of her home to join Paisley’s church. Paisley denied all knowledge of her. Maura eventually returned home and Paisley embraced fame.  

The episode also features the famous Oxford Union debate, where Paisley produces what he calls ‘a biscuit’: an unconsecrated host, which he holds alof, the better to mock the Catholic Church for believing that it’s the body, blood, muscles sinews etc of Christ himself. (Paisley later explained he was talking via TV to the folks back in Ballymena, not the Oxford toffs at the debate.) 

The second episode ‘For God and Ulster’ gives us largely the same ingredients and commentary – how charismatic Paisley was, how sure of himself. “a force of nature”. Mervyn Storey continues as commentator: an image of Paisley bellowing about “the wrath of God” gets Mervyn’s benign assurance  that “Ian Paisley was motivated by a love of God and a love of the souls of men and women”.  

This God doesn’t like kids on Sabbath swings, so the swings are locked up. Paisley is shown campaigning to prevent Protestant towns like Carrickfergus from participating in the hugely popular TV show ‘It’s a Knockout’, as it might have included participation on a Sunday, when people should be at home or in church.  What’s the gulderer like at home? “He’s actually rather quiet at home,” his wife says, smiling.

Then in the third of the series, the wheels come off. Paisley does a U-turn on his “Never, Never, Never, Never” and his disillusioned Free Presbyterian Church gets rid of him. The political party he founded lets him do a victory lap with Martin McGuinness, then dumps him.

Many of the clips in THE HOUSE OF PAISLEY are familiar, the same old depressing story of bigotry, bad-mouthing and big teeth. For those in Outer Mongolia who don’t know Paisley, this would be a good introduction.