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24 September 2014
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80 years of religious broadcasting on the BBC

To celebrate the 80th anniversary of religious broadcasting on the BBC, BBC Radio 4 presents a series of programmes of celebration and reflection.

In a specially commissioned poem by the award-winning poet Michael Symmons Roberts, Keeping The Feast (Wednesday 1 January, 1.30pm; repeated 5 January, 8.00pm) explores the intimate links between faith and food.

Told through the eyes of a child, watching the preparations for a great feast, the poem examines the idea of ritual and celebratory meals across different religions.

Interspersed throughout the poem are the voices of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Sikhs, who talk about the significance of both feasting and fasting to their faiths.

Sunday Worship (Sunday 5 January, 8.07am) marks the occasion with the commission of a musical accompaniment to the words of the BBC motto – Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation.

Composed by John Dankworth, the music combines jazz idioms with the choral harmonies of the St Martin-in-the-Fields Choir.

Leading the service is The Revd Nicholas Holtam, with an address by The Revd Colin Morris, former Head of BBC Religion and a continuing contributor to BBC Radio 4's Thought For The Day.

Radio's longest running daily programme, the Daily Service (Monday 30 December to Thursday 2 January, 9.45am) also celebrates the milestone, along with its own 75th anniversary.

In the first of a four part series featuring veteran presenters, Canon David Winter shares his memories and stories from past broadcasts.

Further programmes in the series offer recollections and insights from Dr Pauline Webb, Canon Stephen Oliver and Canon Noel Vincent. Throughout the series Bible readings are given by actress Sheila Hancock.

The Lady Behind The Daily Service (Thursday 2 January, 3.45pm) looks at how the work of Miss Kate Corduex led to the first broadcast of the Daily Service.

A determined woman, Miss Corduex first wrote to the BBC in 1926 asking for a daily evensong to be aired.

After a lengthy correspondence, during which Miss Corduex raised a petition and had an appeal printed in the Radio Times, the BBC finally agreed to broadcast a daily service, with the first one airing on 2 January 1928.

Notes to Editors

The first religious broadcast on the BBC was a radio talk given by the Revd J A Mayo, Rector of Whitechapel, on 24 December 1922.

Other milestones in BBC religious broadcasting include the first church service broadcast on radio on 6 January 1924 from St Martin-In-The-Fields; the first Choral Evensong, broadcast live from Westminster Abbey, on 7 October 1926; the first Daily Service, broadcast from Savoy Hill, on 2 January 1928 and the first Sunday Half Hour broadcast in July 1940.

On television, the first church worship was broadcast n Christmas Day 1949 and Songs of Praise first aired on 1 October 1961 from the Tabernacle Baptist Chapel in Cardiff.



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