BBC One announces The Great North Passion

This is event television at its best, working with local partners, community groups, artists, performers and the wider BBC to deliver a programme that not only marks Easter significantly, but also for as wide an audience as possible."Aaqil Ahmed, Head, BBC Religion and Ethics
Date: 12.01.2014     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 17.52
Category: BBC One
From the seafront of South Shields in the North East of England, the BBC, in partnership with The Cultural Spring, will undertake an ambitious re-telling of the Passion story for BBC One on Good Friday 2014 (18 April).

An Easter staple, the public telling of the Passion story, marking the last moments of Jesus' life, is traditionally staged in an outside setting with the involvement of the local community.

In the months leading up to the one-hour live event and broadcast, a number of shipping containers will be housed within communities across the North East. Each container will have an associated artist who will transform the giant steel box into a work of art, reflecting both the spirit of the community in which it is situated as well as coming to represent one of the Stations of the Cross.

The containers will then be joined together in Bents Park, South Shields to form a huge cross-shaped installation, by which a live public can experience the story of the Passion, from Christ’s trial and suffering to his eventual death.

Head of BBC Religion and Ethics, Aaqil Ahmed, says: “The Great North Passion shows exactly how committed the BBC is to making accessible and ground-breaking religious programming and we're delighted that this year's broadcast will be coming from the North East. This is event television at its best, working with local partners, community groups, artists, performers and the wider BBC to deliver a programme that not only marks Easter significantly, but also for as wide an audience as possible.

"There will be nothing like this on any other broadcaster and it’s a huge honour to be able to work with Cultural Spring and the people of South Shields to deliver this unique event and television experience.

"We've really been bowled over by the enthusiasm and support for the project from the Cultural Spring and the people of South Tyneside and Wearside, and we can't wait to get to work with them on what will be a truly memorable project."

Chairman of The Cultural Spring, Graeme Thompson, says: “The Cultural Spring was set up to bring new arts and cultural opportunities to communities across Sunderland and South Shields. And those opportunities don't come much more exciting than our partnership with the BBC to stage The Great North Passion. The event will provide a spectacular launchpad for our project and we’re really grateful to South Tyneside Council for their amazing help and support.

“We look forward to working with BBC colleagues to create a most memorable Easter spectacle and we hope the interest and momentum created by the Passion will continue throughout the Cultural Spring’s three years."

The Great North Passion is a BBC Religion and Ethics commission for BBC One. The commissioner and co-executive producer with Mike Smith is BBC Head of Religion and Ethics, Aaqil Ahmed. The one-hour live broadcast forms part of the BBC Easter programming offer. It follows the success of BBC One's Preston Passion in 2012.

Cultural Spring is partnered with the University of Sunderland; the Customs House, South Shields; and Sunderland's Music, Arts and Culture Trust.

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