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Canterbury focus for BBC’s Easter offering

11 March 2024

BBC/James Pratt

The Revd Professor Charlotte Sleigh, holding the paschal candle, with Aled Jones, in St Martin’s, Canterbury

The Revd Professor Charlotte Sleigh, holding the paschal candle, with Aled Jones, in St Martin’s, Canterbury

THE BBC has announced its Holy Week and Easter programming. It includes three live services from Canterbury Cathedral on Easter Day, a new series of Pilgrimage on BBC2, and a performance, featuring a group of amateur singers, of Bach’s St John Passion.

On Easter Day, the Archbishop of Canterbury will preach at the 8.10 a.m. communion service in his cathedral, broadcast live on Radio 4, then give his Easter address at the 10 a.m. sung eucharist, broadcast on BBC1. Choral evensong will be heard on Radio 3 at 3 p.m.

On Radio 2 on Good Friday, the Archbishop of York and Canon Kate Bottley will be joined by guests, including a former sub-postmaster caught up in the Horizon scandal, and a cast member from TV drama Call the Midwife, for a discussion about themes of sacrifice, forgiveness, and hope.

On Easter Day, the same pair will be in discussion, which is expected to include cooking tips from Archbishop Cottrell.

An edition of the Sunrise Service from Durham Cathedral will start Easter Day on Radio 4, featuring a “poetic pilgrimage” in which the poet and churchwarden Jay Hulme reflects on the link between faith and the natural world in the north-east of England, visiting the Northumberland countryside and Durham Cathedral.

BBC/CTVCFrom left: Christine McGuinness, Eshaan Akbar, Sonali Shah, Tom Rosenthal, Michaela Strachan, Spencer Matthews, and Amanda Lovett, who appear in Pilgrimage: The road through North Wales

A new TV series of Pilgrimage will begin on Good Friday, this time following seven well-known figures as they walk the Pilgrim’s Way in north Wales. On the same day, a programme chronicling the chef and rapper Big Zuu’s pilgrimage to Mecca will also be broadcast.

Other non-Christian faith programming over the Easter weekend includes documentary films on a boxing club in Walsall led by a Sikh coach, and a programme following four young Jewish people as they prepare for their bar and bat mitzvahs.

On Easter Day, Aled Jones will present Songs of Praise from St Martin’s, Canterbury, described as the English-speaking world’s oldest exisiting parish church, where Easter has been celebrated for 1500 years.

And the choirmaster Gareth Malone will conduct a performance of the St John Passion, featuring eight previously untrained performers alongside the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the BBC Singers, and a group of soloists. A two-part documentary about preparations for the performance will be broadcast on BBC1, starting on Good Friday, and the full performance will be shown on BBC2 on the evening of Easter Day.

On Good Friday, the Bishop of Newcastle, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, will present a Radio 4 programme incorporating the medieval poem The Dream of the Rood, and a visit to the Sycamore Gap, with reflections on the significance of the iconic Northumberland tree that was cut down last year (Comment, 6 October 2023). 

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