What's on TV: Easter shows from Cambridge
Two famous Cambridge institutions are to receive star billing over the Easter weekend on the BBC.
The first will be the Cambridge University Botanic Garden which will be explored in a new BBC One show on Good Friday called Heavenly Gardens.
Presented by Pointless star Alexander Armstrong, the new religious programme sees former chorister and garden lover return to his student haunts in Cambridge to discover a place designed to inspire joy, even on the bleakest days, in the university’s botanic garden.
Filming with Alexander and garden designer Arit Anderson took place at the end of February this year, when CUBG’s Director, Beverley Glover and Head of Horticulture, Sally Petitt were interviewed about the history, science and beauty of the Garden. Viewers will enjoy scenes the Main Walk, the Bee Borders and in the Sainsbury Laboratory (not open to the public), and finally the Winter Garden.
Professor Beverley Glover, Director of the Botanic Garden said: “The programme is an opportunity for viewers, and also people who have perhaps visited the Garden before, not only to see the beauty of the Garden but also to gain an understanding about the purpose of the Garden, its history, its links to Darwin and how it is at the forefront of making a difference to the world we live in today because of our plant collections and how they are used by scientists to make potentially life-changing discoveries.
“And it’s also what I hope will be a relaxing and unwinding opportunity for viewers to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature at what is such a worrying and challenging time with everything we’re facing and when people aren’t able to get out to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the outside. So it’s a way of sharing the beauty and uniqueness of the Botanic Garden with everyone.
“I’m looking forward to seeing it myself, because I’m missing the garden so much at the moment, although I do have mixed feelings because I don’t much like the idea of seeing myself on camera! It was great fun to film and to see how the BBC film crew worked together. Although it was a very long and very cold day they all kept each other going with jokes and lots of coffee!”
During the two-part series, Alexander and Arit will visit six spectacular gardens across the United Kingdom, which are all steeped in faith and spirituality.
The traditional Easter service with music and readings from King’s College Chapel and its world famous choir will also be broadcast on BBC 2 at 7pm on Good Friday, as it was pre-recorded at Christmas time so avoided being cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown.
However, a series of live concerts at the chapel has had to be cancelled, including one that would have been broadcast on Radio 3, as the university is closed.
Daniel Hyde, Director of Music at King’s College Chapel, said: “The Easter festival like pretty much everything else going on in the chapel was cancelled but Easter at Kings was filmed at the same time as the Christmas carols so that will still be broadcast.
The Easter service is a spread that starts at the beginning of Holy Week and there will be a mix of things that people do know and new things that they won’t know. At Christmas they make two shows and do tricks with the lighting to make it look a little bit spring like through the windows but I'm glad we got it done because we didn't realise we would be in this situation.
“I’m very disappointed to have shut up shop, especially in my first year but some things are more important such as keeping everyone safe and well. The choir would normally be singing seven days a week so we have to work out how we can provide that education online.
“We are doing some webcasting on the King’s website where we are posting every day something from the archives that is suitable for Easter.”
The Easter at King’s broadcast will include some of the best-loved choral music for the season, including O Vos Omnes (Pablo Casals), Were You There? (arr. Richard Lloyd), And I Saw a New Heaven (Edgar Bainton) and Blessed be the God and Father (SS Wesley).
Members of King’s College tell the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection from the Bible and poems written by Patrick Carey and Malcolm Guite. The congregation joins in popular Easter hymns, including Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem and Jesus Christ is Risen Today.
Christine Morgan, Head of the BBC’s Radio Religion & Ethics, says: “ Our aim is to uplift our listeners throughout this important time of year during such unprecedented circumstances."
More by this authorAlex Spencer