Air-Force One by Christopher Lee

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Saturday Drama on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4, 16 November 2013
In he fifty years since the Kennedy assassination, there have been innumerable theories advanced as to why it happened.  No one, it seems, can quite believe the idea that one single person - Lee Harvey Oswald - acted alone, without being discovered before the event actually happened.
Perhaps wisely, Martin Jarvis' production did not try to offer any new interpretations, but concentrated instead on how people reacted in the hours immediately following the assassination.  Based on Federal and academic research, recollections, and statements by Jackie Kennedy, Air-Force One came to some bold conclusions.  First, it suggested that there was a conscious effort on the part of the security services to manipulate the evidence, especially over the question of how JFK's corpse was to be transported back from Dallas to Washington DC.  There was also a conscious attempt to make sure that the autopsy came to a particular conclusion.  Such strategies were designed to minimize the fall-out of the assassination: any talk of conspiracies would inevitably lead to uncomfortable questions being asked of the security services and their inability to protect JFK.
Secondly Air-Force One suggested that Vice-President Lyndon Baines Johnson (Stacy Keach) and his wife Lady Bird (Susan Sullivan) acted entirely out of self-interest.  They made strenuous efforts to prove how much they "loved" JFK - even though Johnson and Kennedy had had a serious fight on the morning of the assassination - and insisted on having the swearing-in ceremony on the presidential plane, despite the inconvenience involved.  This gave Johnson the opportunity to have himself photographed next to Jackie Kennedy (Glenne Headly) and thereby emphasize the importance of continuity in government.
With all this deliberate manipulation going on in the wake of the assassination, it was perhaps inevitable that no one actually paid attention to Jackie Kennedy's feelings.  Everyone worried about what she was doing -  Lady Bird Johnson repeatedly insisted that she should change her blood-stained clothing - but no one bothered to try and talk to her.  Despite such isolation, Jarvis' production portrayed Jackie Kennedy as someone possessed of considerable mental and physical strength; no one could persuade her to do anything against her will.  She insisted on wearing her blood-stained Chanel coat to show the world exactly what had happened to her husband, while refusing to accept the strategies set out for her by the security forces.
Performed by an all-American cast, Air-Force One was a powerful piece of work that did not shy away from depicting the seamier side of government at a time of social and political upheaval.