Singers turn out in numbers for BBC Songs of Praise in Newcastle

First published on: 23rd August 2023

Almost 500 people turned out to sing as the BBC brought Songs of Praise to Newcastle. 

Churchgoers across the diocese were invited to join the congregation at St George's Jesmond, during a three-hour filming session on Monday evening (21st August).

The Revd Ollie Dempsey, curate at St George's, said an opening prayer before the congregation sung a selection of 10 hymns.

"It was a really wonderful evening," he said afterwards. "Everyone felt greatly encouraged by the opportunity to sing 10 hymns - sometimes up to three or four times per hymn. This enabled the BBC crew to get different camera angles and just make sure the filming was as good as it possibly could be. There was a great atmosphere and it made for a really lovely and memorable evening."

Drew Cantrill-Fenwick, director of music and organist at St George's, conducted the singing while Kris Thomsett, assistant director of music at Newcastle Cathedral, was on hand to play the organ during the session. 

"They did a remarkable job," said Ollie. "The music was excellent and Drew had a great way with the congregation. He got everyone into the singing and it was a joy to be part of. 

"Such a lot of work went into this behind the scenes. We had a lot of people stewarding on the day and before that, we had people turning up to clean and make the church even more beautiful than it already is."

Songs of Praise producer Charlotte Hindle said: "It's always great to come to Newcastle. We received a warm welcome and met so many lovely people. We are grateful to everybody who turned out to sing - and they did so with such enthusiasm. 

"St George's is such a beautiful church and it looked so wonderful when it was lit. The stewards and the church wardens worked incredibly hard, while the church choir were magnificent, as were both Drew and Kris."

Singing filmed at St George's is set to feature in an episode on 8th October - the evening before the start of Prison Week (9-15 October). The episode will also feature Junction 42, the charity which works with ex-offenders. 

Individual songs from the filming session at St George's will be shown in other episodes before the end of the calendar year. 

The evening also included the hymn, When a Knight Won His Spurs, which was filmed with a view to being used ahead of St George's Day next year. 










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