Thousands flocked to the bus station in Preston today, as they and many more at home watched the live BBC broadcast of The Preston Passion.Advertisement
The show, which was presented by Fern Britton and combined choral singing, live dance and three modern retellings of the Passion story set in Preston, was attended by a bigger than anticipated crowd who filled Tithebarn Street and the surrounding area in order to catch a glimpse of the spectacular event.
View a slideshow below of behind the scenes photos from the show
The performers themselves packed out one half of the bus station in preparation for the final dress rehearsal, leaving bus-goers to the East apron but offering passers by an early glimpse of their ethereal singing as they warmed up.
The sense of community amongst the performers was a rare sight to behold, and after the morning dress rehearsal, Blog Preston spoke to some of the singers as they grabbed coffees and huddled together to keep warm.
See how the Passion unfolded, our live updates went on throughout the build up and show itself.
Kathy from Trinity Singers in Goosnargh was proud to have been given the chance to take part, and she told us how her choir had applied early so as not to miss out. Although they couldn’t watch the drama unfold on the screens behind them, it wasn’t through want of trying:
“We’ve seen bits of the films, we’ve even tried to turn round and have a peek, but we never see the end as the conductor is doing his final countdown then and we must concentrate on that”.
She thought the event was a fantastic way to kick off the Guild, especially for the younger generation:
“You always remember where you are at your first Guild. I was on a float at the last one!”
Trish and Barbara from Galloways Choir in Penwortham, who were experiencing their fourth Preston Guild, told us that they had been rehearsing for the past two weeks, including the night previously. They were full of praise for the BBC and its organisation of the entire event:
Trish said: “I think it’s gone amazingly well. I’ve been really impressed by the organisation. The BBC seem to have thought everything through; we were given an information pack covering all eventualities, which roads would be closed, the telephone number for bus and rail enquiries. They even called us to ask if we would need a car parking space reserved.”
Barbara particularly enjoyed the work of BBC conductor Paul Leddington-Wright: “We’ve had a lovely time rehearsing. The conductor has made it so enjoyable and fun, and he has really made us bond as a team. When he first appeared last night, he received a very warm reaction from the choirs. He even joked that he was glad we had come back!”
As the show began, it looked as if the rain might finally put a dampener on proceedings, but despite some light drizzle, the crowds managed to remain dry for the full hour. They watched in total silence as actors brought the emotional stories of Jesus’ last days alive, depicting his physical, mental and spiritual suffering through modern adaptations written by Colin Heber-Percy and Lyall Watson. Singer Jamelia, who was a last-minute replacement for M People star Heather Small, belted out Candi Staton’s You’ve Got the Love as onlookers watched on the huge screen erected at one end of the bus station apron.
After the show had finished, a crowd of people gathered to meet Britton and have their picture taken with her before she jetted off. In that crowd was little Aimie Leach, Preston schoolgirl and star as Bella in the final mini drama. When asked how it felt to watch herself perform on the big screen, she summed it up in one word: “Exciting!”
Audience members Anne Parker, Julie O’Neill and Sue Salisbury, who described themselves as “Proud Prestonians”, really enjoyed the show and the atmosphere it created. They described the mini-dramas as “very emotional”, particularly the film featuring Leach. They were most impressed at the turn out, and praised Preston Council and Preston Guild for ensuring it was a success.
As the confetti was being blown away and the barriers removed, the buzz of seeing Preston at the centre of national attention was still alive on Twitter.
@SourEnvy tweeted: “I’m not religious at all, but interested in the story. Weird seeing Preston on TV too! #PrestonPassion”.
@fayemaguire revealed that #PrestonPassion was trending, and also exclaimed that she was “proud of UCLan Chamber Choir”.
Did you watch the show? Were you part of it? Let us know what you thought of the Preston Passion in the comments below