BBC unveils Easter schedule
The BBC today announced new and returning religious TV and radio programming to mark and celebrate the greatest festival in the Christian calendar.
At the heart of this year’s Easter selection on TV, are two episodes of Songs Of Praise In The Holy Land on BBC One. On Palm Sunday, Aled Jones accompanies a choir of young Christians as they visit the key holy sights for the first time, including the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where they will also sing Easter hymns and songs.
On Easter Sunday Aled presents from Christianity’s most sacred city – Jerusalem – where the programme explores the faith stories of Lion King star Shaun Escoffery, and renowned soprano Laura Wright.
Britain’s Easter Story is a new two–part 60-minute series on Good Friday and Easter Sunday with choir master Gareth Malone and gospel choir conductor Karen Gibson. They travel across the UK to explore the stories behind our Easter traditions, looking at how different celebrations have developed over the years, and how music remains a big part of those celebrations.
On Sunday mornings from 17 March a new eight-part series goes to the heart of the fascinating cultural and spiritual narratives found in our countryside. In Walks of Life, each week, Mehreen Baig and JB Gill take viewers on a specially curated walk to explore modern attitudes to religion, belief, and society’s relationship with the spectacular landscapes around us.
In Pilgrimage: Road To Rome on BBC Two (pictured) we see eight famous faces, actor Les Dennis, comedian Katy Brand, Olympic athlete Greg Rutherford, actress Lesley Joseph, dancer and Strictly star Brendan Cole, comedian Stephen K Amos, journalist Mehreen Baig and Eurovision Song Contest winner Dana arrive at St Peter’s Square in Rome, where they are granted a private audience with Pope Francis in this final episode on Good Friday.
Easter Carols At King’s sees Music director, Stephen Cleobury lead the renowned King’s College choir as they sing some of the best-loved choral music for the season, including Crucifixus (Lotti), Were You There? (arr. Cleobury) and Hallelujah (Handel, from Messiah). Mezzo soprano Jennifer Johnston joins the choir to perform the Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascangi).
To complement these highlights, there will be a live Easter service from St Mary’s in Warwick and Pope Francis’ Easter Sunday Message and Blessing – Urbi et Orbi – presented by Religion Editor Martin Bashir.
Tom McDonald, Head of commissioning, Natural History & Specialist Factual, says: “We are excited to bring viewers a range of programmes to celebrate the Christian calendar's most important date. Easter is a time of thoughtfulness, introspection and also great joy and we will be reflecting that across our titles."
BBC Radio highlights include Luke, Acts – a two-part dramatisation on Radio 4 starting on Saturday (13 April) at 2.30pm, with poet Michael Symmons Roberts telling afresh one of the foundational stories of our culture and of world history. David Schofield and Verity Henry lead the cast.
At The Foot Of The Cross, presented by Dan Walker, returns to Radio 2 with songs of despair and hope for Good Friday, at 8pm. The BBC Concert Orchestra is joined by London Contemporary Voices, The BBC Radio 2 Young Choristers Of The Year, and special guest stars including singer-songwriter Yola, to present a sequence of spiritual songs from stage and screen reflecting on the story of Good Friday.