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My Life At Christmas With Sally Phillips – BBC announces new Religion & Ethics commissions

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• Actor, comedian and writer, Humza Arshad presents new documentary, Finding Forgiveness (w/t) for BBC Two and Player

• Exclusive access to a Mormon training centre in the UK in new film for BBC One and iPlayer, The Mormons are Coming (w/t)

• New three part series for Advent with actor and comedian Sally Phillips meeting three well-known faces – Revd Richard Coles, Strictly Come Dancing’s Shirley Ballas and poet Lemn Sissay – to reflect on their memories of Christmas

• On BBC Radio 4, later this month, Catholic composer Sir James MacMillan considers the faith lives of four very different composers in Faith in Music

• Rabbi, writer and broadcaster Jonathan Romain reveals his Private Passions in conversation with Michael Berkeley on BBC Radio 3 this December

• Mica Paris returns to BBC Radio 2 with Mica’s Gospel Gold, a four part series with music to lift the spirit

• On BBC Radio 4, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, returns for a new series of The Archbishop Interviews

• Further content for Christmas will be announced later this month.

Daisy Scalchi, BBC Head of Religion & Ethics, Television, says: “The appetite for content about faith and beliefs is as strong as ever. These programmes can offer us a unique perspective on some of life’s big questions, provide support and comfort during challenging times and bring us together in celebration for important moments like Advent and Christmas.

Over the past year, series such as A Believer’s Guide To… and Pilgrimage, as well as single films like Two Daughters, with the extraordinary Mina and Chris Smallman, have shown people grappling with questions of meaning, purpose and exploring what faith means to them.

In addition, our Faith and Hope for Spring season returned for a second year, with content marking key faith festivals across the BBC networks. The Faith and Hope rail on iPlayer continues as a central hub where audiences can find recent religion programming highlights.

The new documentaries announced today demonstrate our commitment to exploring the role faith and belief have in how we live our lives – from finding forgiveness in the most difficult of circumstances, to seeing what compels young people to pick a different path, away from many of society’s norms, in becoming Mormon missionaries. In addition, I’m also delighted that the Revd Richard Coles, Lemn Sissay and Shirley Ballas are all sharing their poignant Christmas memories with Sally Phillips in a special new Advent series for BBC One.”

Tim Pemberton, BBC Head of Religion & Ethics, Radio, says: “Throughout this last year, BBC Radio’s faith programmes have been a source of companionship and contemplation.

Highlights include our series with The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Radio 4’s The Archbishop Interviews, offering insight into the inner lives of public figures from former Prime Minister, Sir Tony Blair, to authors Stephen King and Elif Shafak. I’m delighted it’s returning for a new series next year. And I’m thrilled that Mica Paris is bringing another series of Mica’s Gospel Gold to Radio 2, celebrating the spirit and the joy of gospel music.

2023 also welcomes in a new presenter, as Aleem Maqbool takes the reins at Beyond Belief, after Ernie Rea announced his retirement earlier this year. Until then, we have Lord Rowan Williams’ Reith Lecture on Freedom of Worship and a new series of Faith in Music on Radio 4, Rabbi Jonathan Romain’s Private Passions on Radio 3 and all the festive religion programmes throughout December and into January.”

Television

My Life At Christmas With Sally Phillips

In a special series of films for Advent, actor and comedian Sally Phillips meets three well-known faces to explore how their memories of Christmas reflect the enormous changes they have gone through in their lives, careers, family and faith.

In the first episode Revd Richard Coles reflects on his Christmas journey from childhood chorister and Communards fame, to life as a vicar and the death of his beloved life-partner David. He takes Sally back to the church pew where he found his faith to discover how Christmas brought some of the most joyful, meaningful and sorrowful moments in his life.

In the second episode, Sally meets poet Lemn Sissay who spent years in the care system after being taken from his mother as a baby. He reveals how his experience gave him the passion to make Christmas special for hundreds of other care leavers.

Finally, Sally visits the home of Strictly Come Dancing’s Shirley Ballas who shares her story of hard work, passion and loss – with one particularly tragic Christmas at its heart.

My Life at Christmas with Sally Phillips was commissioned by Daisy Scalchi. It is 3×60 for BBC One and is being made by Big Circus where the Executive Producers are Elliot Falk, Gareth Collett and Matt Baker, Simon Goodman is Series Producer and Julian Smith is the Director.