BBC to celebrate Easter as 'most significant and holiest of times' with boosted coverage
The BBC will celebrate Easter this year with host of new religious programming 'to mark the most significant and holiest of times in the Christian calendar', it announced today.
As well as the traditional live services, a three-part documentary will follow seven celebrities along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage with the final episode on Good Friday.
It comes after criticism of the national broadcaster for allegedly sidelining Christianity in favour of other faiths.
However in a review published last year the BBC promised to 'raise our game' and improve it's religion content. The corporation said it would introduce a religion editor and boost its coverage of religious affairs news.
Pilgrimage: The Road to Santiago, which starts on BBC Two on Friday, documents the 'eye-opening' 500-mile journey from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela. The group includes Kate Bottley, Anglican vicar and Gogglebox star; actor Neil Morrissey; M People singer Heather Small; comedian Ed Byrne; performer Debbie McGee; journalist Raphael Rowe and TV presenter JJ Chalmers, a former Royal Marine who survived a bomb blast serving in Afghanistan.
'It made me think differently about myself, about other people, about religion and faith. I learnt more about religion [on the camino] than I ever have in my life,' said Rowe in an interview with the Guardian.
Dan Walker, the BBC Breakfast and former Match of the Day star who is a committed Christian, will present At the Foot of the Cross, an evening of music and reflection on BBC Radio 2 on Good Friday.
On Easter Sunday, as well as live services and meditations, the Rev Richard Coles will talk to Michael Berkeley about his double life as a celebrity priest, and his enduring passion for classical music, in Private Passions on BC Radio 3.
And BBC One's Painting the Holy Land will explore key sites of Christianity through the eyes of artist Lachlan Goudie.
'This Easter we're celebrating this most important date in the Christian calendar across the BBC, with an array of programmes that mark Easter as a special time to reflect and feel inspired,' said Fatima Salaria, the BBC's Religion and Ethics commissioner.
'In Pilgrimage: The Road to Santiago we do just that. Seven people in the public eye stripped of their everyday comforts living as modern day pilgrims on the famous medieval pilgrimage, the Camino de Santigo. It promises the BBC Two audience a variety of thought-provoking perspectives and insightful moments of self-discovery,' she added.
'These highlights combined with live worship and well-loved music offers a real range of content that I hope our audiences treasure during the Easter period.'
Christine Morgan, head of radio for Religion and Ethics added: 'Our Easter programmes on Radio this year have a glorious mix of extraordinary stories and profound reflections plus some of the best music to be heard anywhere to convey the Passion story and the joy of Easter.'