Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Programme Information

Network TV BBC Week 42
The Big Silence feature

Silence is golden

L-R: Silent partners Carrie Lloyd, Jon Treanor, Helen Doughty, David Dalglish, Trish Adudu and Father Christopher

The Big Silence

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A new three-part series for BBC Two, The Big Silence, follows five people who have taken time out of their daily lives in an attempt to understand just why silence is so elusive and hard to attain in modern-day society. Programme Information discovers more about their quest for quiet.

Carrie, David, Helen, Jon and Trish all have modern, high-pressured jobs in stressful trades: business, teaching, PR, media and hospitality. They live hectic lives surrounded by constant white noise – internet, text, mobile phone, conference-calling and multi-media. All of them are aware of something profoundly missing from their lifestyles and are looking for an opportunity to find a more spiritual dimension to their lives.

Guiding the volunteers on their spiritual journey is Abbott Christopher Jamison of Worth Abbey in West Sussex, whom many viewers will remember from popular BBC Two series The Monastery. As a Benedictine monk he is steeped in the Catholic tradition of the contemplative life, but he is convinced that everyone in the "real" world outside the monastery can also benefit from sustained, regular periods of silence.

Father Christopher says: "Many of the world's religions believe there is one simple path that leads us towards God. It's called silence.

"When we enter into periods of silence, we start to see things with greater clarity. We come to know ourselves, and get in touch with the deepest part of ourselves. That is our soul."

In the first episode Father Christopher invites the volunteers to spend two days with his community of monks in Sussex, where they spend time in quiet, completive prayer and meditation.

Father Christopher explains: "It is not a spiritual bath or tonic. The reality is very different. We bump into our deepest selves."

The weekend at Worth Abbey is to prepare the group for the experience that forms the centre of the series: an eight-day total-immersion course in silence at St Beunos in North Wales, a Retreat run by Jesuit priests and spiritual guides. Absolutely no talking is allowed, except for a one-hour counselling session a day, and recording a short diary on tape.

The volunteers must confront fear, denial, anxiety and anger so that they can emerge with remarkable insights into themselves and their lives, before they can return to their jobs, families and communities to confront the pressures of life in a new way.

Over the following two-month period Father Christopher monitors their progress, at their own homes and at Worth Abbey as they meet up for a spiritual health check.

The question is whether, after their time with Father Christopher and their Jesuit spiritual guides is over, they will return to their old ways or if they have learnt valuable lessons that can profoundly change their lives for ever.

The five volunteers taking part in the series are:

Carrie Lloyd
Carrie, 29, is on sabbatical from a job as head of PR for an advertising firm to write a film. She divides her time between her boyfriend's flat in London and her mum's home in Stamford. Brought up by Baptist ministers and still a regular churchgoer, Carrie is the only member of the group with a strong religious faith. She wants to explore silence to discover why she feels driven to live such a relentlessly busy life, and to confront the grief she still feels over the death of her father six years ago.

Trish Adudu
Trish is the 40-year-old mother of two young boys, aged nine and seven, and partner to musician Ez. She lives in Coventry and is a part-time teacher in a secondary school, and also a radio presenter with her own Saturday morning breakfast show on BBC Radio Coventry. Trish was a firm believer in God until her father died suddenly three years ago. Since then she has lost her faith but is desperate to have her faith issues and anger with God resolved.

David Dalglish
David, 28, lives in Glasgow with his fiancée and his baby daughter. He works long hours in one of the city's busiest Italian eateries as a restaurant manager. David's life gives him little time to reflect, but he has a great appetite to explore his spirituality and find his own answers to the big questions he knows his child will be asking him when she's older. Like most of the group, David has no religious affiliation.

Jon Treanor
A successful, self-made entrepreneur, 55-year-old Jon runs his own business consultancy company and is also on the board of a luxury car hire firm. Twice divorced, he has two children from previous relationships, plus one grandchild. Jon has material success but lacks spiritual contentment. He wants to explore silence in order to search out what has been missing in his life.

Helen Doughty
A 50-year-old Londoner, Helen was, until recently, a human resources director of a large global company. Much of her life up to this point has been work focused, but Helen lost her job in the recession and now she is at a major crossroads in her life. She wants to discover what silence can do to help her explore big questions about which direction she should take, in both personal and career terms. Helen is not religious but is open-minded about where this journey may take her. She is single and lives in South London.

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