A group of ordinary men take part in a unique experiment when they spend
40 days and 40 nights living with monks for a new three part series for
BBC TWO called The Monastery.
The series follows five laymen on a spiritual journey in a Benedictine
monastery to discover if the 1,500-year-old monastic tradition has anything
to offer a new generation.
Although from very different backgrounds, all five participants share
a desire to see if life holds any greater meaning. They will be expected
to abide by the monastery's rules, with a strict timetable of instruction,
study, prayer, reflection and routine work duties.
The Monastery, filmed at Worth Abbey in West Sussex,
follows them on their remarkable journey to see if the lessons learnt
have the power to transform their everyday lives.
Tony Burke is 29, single and lives in London. He's worked
in advertising but is now producing trailers for a sex chat line. He has
lived and partied hard in recent years but is re-thinking his approach
to the world.
He hopes going into the monastery will help him to discover what is right
and wrong and give him a firm grounding for the next 29 years of his life.
But with no religious background and no belief in God, can he find what
he is looking for?
A painter and decorator from Cornwall, Gary McCormick
is 36 and single. Originally from Belfast, he was involved with the UDA
in his youth and got caught up in the troubles during the Nineties.
He spent much of his early life in prison where he discovered faith but,
12 years on, still carries emotional scars. He hopes to repair the damage
of years spent in prison, learn to deal with the pain of the past and
move on with his life.
Nick Buxton is single, 37, and studying for a PhD in
Buddhism at Cambridge University. He has been on a spiritual search for
the last ten years.
Recently he has returned to his Anglican roots but part of him doesn't
believe in what he is doing and he is struggling to make the leap of faith.
Can being in the monastery help to put his heart back into religion?
A high-earning, high-energy bachelor, 32-year-old Anthoney Wright,
from London, works for a legal publishing company.
Brought up by his grandmother, he is looking to deal with issues surrounding
his upbringing and, for him, the monastery offers a unique opportunity
to search for inner peace.
Peter Gruffydd is married, a published poet and a retired
teacher living in Bristol. Having originally rejected religion in his
youth, he hopes to gain spiritual guidance while in the monastery, and
discover an answer to the ultimate question 'What is the meaning of life?'.
The monks have no idea who their guests will be, but for the five volunteers
- who will be expected to live by the monks' rules of silence, obedience
and humility - the experience could prove to be a challenging journey
of self discovery.
Father Christopher Jamison, Abbot of Worth Abbey, says: "We saw in this project an opportunity to discover what our way of life offers to people today who do not share our beliefs.
"We had distinct hopes for the participants and for the viewers.
"For the participants, we hoped that they would discover hidden depths in their lives and in those hidden depths encounter God.
Giving viewers a glimpse into the unseen world of the monks' community,
the series will explore how the monastic discipline remains relevant to
contemporary life with a few surprises, revelations and confrontations
along the way.
Notes to Editors
The Monastery is filmed at Worth Abbey, near Crawley, West Sussex.
The Abbey has a community of 22 Benedictine monks, who follow the Rule
of St. Benedict - written 1,500 years ago, but still providing life-giving
guidance to many men and women.
The monks of Worth have created a sanctuary where the gospel of Christ
is expressed through a community life of prayer and service.
The Monastery is a Tiger Aspect Production for BBC TWO.