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‘Songs of Praise has shown Christianity as a living faith’ : Queen pays tribute on BBC show’s 60th anniversary

by Donna Birrell

BBC One's Songs of Praise, the world's longest running religious television programme, is 60 years old tomorrow.

A special programme will mark nearly 3,000 broadcasts since the first transmission in 1961.

Recorded at Westminster Abbey, the programme features special guests and favourite hymns and a message from Her Majesty The Queen.

Premier's Pam Rhodes is one of the programme's longest serving presenters, having been part of the show for 34 years. 

She has met many illustrious people over that time, including Pope John Paul II who she followed around for a week while making an episode of the programme. But she tells Premier her favourite guest was Dolly Parton :

"What a lovely lady. I'm often playing songs she's written on (Premier's) Hearts and Hymns. But she's so down-to-earth with a great sense of humour."

Pam also says that it is mainly in speaking to everyday people of faith that she feels most inspired.

As part of the special episode, Aled Jones reads a tribute to Songs of Praise from the Queen, which was also included in the order of service for the recording : 

"For sixty years 'Songs of Praise' has drawn together congregations and BBC Viewers throughout the United Kingdom in collective worship. During that time, the programme has shown Christianity as a living faith not only through hymns and worship songs, but also by featuring the many people who have put their faith at the centre of their lives. I congratulate Songs of Praise and all those involved in the programme on its 60th anniversary."
 
Hosted at Westminster Abbey, Aled Jones is joined by fellow presenters from the past and present including Katherine Jenkins, Sally Magnusson and David Grant. The programme features star guests and favourite hymns, as well as some special musical collaborations.

Aled Jones says: "I've been a Songs of Praise presenter for over 20 years and it's one of the biggest joys of my life.  It is an honour to be able to share uplifting stories of faith with our dear audience and to gladden hearts with music that means the world to me.  Here's to a future filled with wonderful Songs of Praise!"

Songs of Praise's 60th anniversary programme airs this Sunday 3 October at 2.45pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

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