As we enter the 54th year of Songs of Praise - BBC One’s inspirational Christian music and features series - you will notice that the weekly Sunday afternoon series will look a little different. From Sunday 16th November, we are introducing some changes that I hope will excite and please viewers both old and new.
Songs of Praise has evolved over the years and now it is even more important that it reflects Christianity across the whole of the United Kingdom as we see it today. From the emerging black majority, Pentecostal and Eastern European Catholic Churches to of course Anglican worship, the updated version of Songs of Praise will be going all out to ensure that more viewers see themselves well represented.
Out goes the one location, one presenter structure of hymns and interviews and in comes an engaging mix of musical styles and varied features. Whilst remaining the country’s premier, flagship, Christian music show, the magazine-style approach is designed to cover more ground – with a rich selection of inspiring hymms and songs from a broad range of locations, events and a wider variety of church communities – and to appeal to more viewers, more often.
Songs of Praise will continue to focus on the Christian faith in words and music but will showcase a greater breadth of music in every episode, delivering something for everyone. It will combine topical items with surprising stories and current issues and it will also involve more than one presenter in every programme. In fact, the current team of presenters will be joined by new faces over time, reporting and contributing in different ways.
The recognisable theme tune, composed by series music advisor Robert Prizeman, will still be evident and the ability to sing along, to the on-screen words will continue.
Songs of Praise is an important part of the BBC One schedule – that rare moment in the week to stop and think about life. The range of music played will be eclectic – from gospel to traditional hymns, from extraordinary choirs to amazing soloists and the scope to tell a riveting story in a few minutes will be at the heart of every programme. In the first episode, for instance, we meet Christians from Syria who have fled the country, to hear about their experiences and to find out what life is like for their relatives still suffering there.
If you were a viewer before I am sure you will enjoy the new approach, if you weren't then give it a go.
Aaqil Ahmed is Head of Relgion and Ethics
- Songs of Praise is on BBC One on Sunday 16 November 2014 at 4.10pm.