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Rev: BBC series 'true to life' says Christian Research survey

Britain's church-goers will be glued to their TVs for the final episode of Rev tonight (Monday 28 April), according to a new survey ...

Britain's church-goers will be glued to their TVs for the final episode of Rev tonight (Monday 28 April), according to a new survey ...

The gritty BBC2 series, based on an inner city church and starring Tom Hollander, has scored a direct hit with the UK faithful. According to the survey, carried out by Christian Research for the upcoming Christian Resources Exhibition (May 13-16, Sandown Park, Esher), a whopping 65 per cent had watched the current series and 71 per cent of those had watched more than three episodes.

The lead character, Rev Adam Smallbone, played by Hollander, has been particularly well received. Asked to rate him on a scale from 1 = totally believable to 5 = totally unbelievable as a character, respondents rated him 2.1, i.e. more believable than not.

Almost half (48 per cent) of the 1943 people who completed the survey on Friday (25 April) said they would attend a church led by Smallbone. Women were much more likely to attend (55 per cent). Only 12 per cent would decline the opportunity.

A lack of resources was deemed the biggest problem faced by churches (18 per cent) – a bigger problem in rural areas than cities. More than 70 per cent of those in rural areas found it the biggest or a major concern amongst others, compared with around 50 per cent in urban areas.

More than eight in 10 (86 per cent) respondents believe that wealthy churches should support poorer ones like Rev Smallbone's St Saviour in the Marshes. Conversely, when asked whether churches that cannot pay their way should be closed, only 20 per cent agreed or agreed strongly.

"I am not surprised the series has had such a big impact among church-goers – lay and ordained," said Bill Allen, event manager of the Christian Resources Exhibition, often dubbed 'the ideal church show'. "Adam Smallbone's struggle with a lack of resources, human and financial, mirrors the situation of thousands of visitors to our national exhibition where we show what can be done, even on tight budgets."

The 30th National CRE takes place at Sandown Park, Esher (May 13-16). More than 10,000 people, representing churches of all leading denominations, are expected to attend.

Almost half of the ordained ministers who responded to the survey believe that the pressure of fundraising directly affects the quality of their ministry. Some of their more unusual methods of fund-raising include chest waxing, a teddy bears' death slide and ferret racing!

"I find Rev both extremely painful and extremely funny, because, having spent 15 years in inner city ministry in London, the situations, people and relationships it portrays are often too true for comfort," said one respondent.

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