The Preston Passion

12:00pm Friday 6 April on BBC ONE

This Good Friday BBC One presents The Preston Passion, a unique collaboration between the BBC and Preston Guild. A contemporary and dramatic re-telling of the Passion story, it features an exciting combination of live performance and spectacle coupled with innovative pre-recorded drama.

The Preston Passion live spectacle will be presented by Fern Britton and will involve local residents as performers and spectators. In addition to local choirs singing traditional Easter music, large-scale choreographed crowd movements across the city will form ‘human crosses’.

The stunning spectacle will also include contemporary dance pieces and traditional local brass band music. And to close Preston Passion’s live programme of performance, M People’s Heather Small will sing Candy Staton’s gospel classic, You Got The Love.

Three pre-recorded dramas, Pilate, Mary and Jesus , will be played during the live event.

The three dramas are inspired by the themes of the Passion Of Christ and are based on Preston residents, both past and present. In Pilate the viewers will go back to Preston in 1842, where the town is on the verge of a bloody riot. Confronted by mill workers striking against wage cuts, mayor Samuel Horrocks is torn between self-interest, political pressures and doubt. At the heart of his dilemma is what to do with principled and stubborn strike leader, George Cleasby – should he show leniency or make an example of him? His dilemma echoes the one faced by Pontius Pilate.

In the drama Mary, Mary Melling waves her son Joe off to war in 1914. Whilst he is away serving in the Pals Battalion she volunteers along with friends Amy Cummins and Betty Cleasby to serve thousands of off-duty soldiers at a local tea room in Preston Railway Station. One fateful night one of the three friends receives terrible news about her child and must come to terms with her grief.

Set in present-day Preston, Jesus tells the story Bella – a 12-year-old carer of her drunken mother and her vulnerable younger siblings. Bella’s sacrifices symbolise Christ’s final journey – carrying the burden of his cross to the moment of crucifixion.

Samuel Horrocks is played by Tom Ellis, Bishop Crowther by Ronald Pickup, George Cleasby by Daniel Dingsdale, Mary Melling by Samantha Bond, Amy Cummins by Christine Bottomley, Betty Cleasby by Pooky Quesnel, Bella is played by Aimie Leach and Simon is played by Paul Barber.

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