In the wake of the televising of the two services, many people wrote, telephoned or emailed to express their appreciation of the service, or with questions. Both vicar and website manager were frequently asked to supply the words of the poem ‘There was a Time’, and others wanted to know about the music used in the worship.  The two services were clearly very well received, even if there has been, unsurprisingly perhaps, no perceptible increase in our regular congregation. It’s one thing smiling for the cameras, another turning up week by week for worship when the floodlights aren’t on…! Another meaning of that phrase 'Doen to Earth', perhaps?

Many members of local churches have said how much they enjoyed watching us, and in many cases being part of the ‘show’. As a postscript to the BBC saga, we reproduce an article by SHIRLEY POTTER, a member of the congregation of St Peter, Formby, which explains itself and acts as a fitting finale to the events of December, 2004.

I suspect that few people would resist the invitation to be on the telly in an extras sort of way, and to have this chance and be part of a BBC series of Advent services was certainly very attractive. Ged Callacher, choirmaster at St Faith’s in Crosby, appealed to local choirs and choral societies for volunteers to be the ‘core choir’ in the congregation for the services for Advent 3 and 4, following on from the previous two from Chesham in Buckinghamshire.

The rehearsal schedule was fairly punishing, with two evenings and a whole day session prior to the actual recordings done over a weekend but it was a fascinating experience to see just how these seamless production come to our screens.

Anything but seamless in the making! Lots of sitting around when nothing appeared to be going on, long pauses while cameras were moved into position, retake after retake of readings, prayers and hymns.  However, inspirational conductor David Lawrence eased us through with explanations and anecdotes, and, whilst always seeking for perfection, was endlessly generous in his praise - "That sounded absolutely great - so great in fact that they would like to hear it all over again"!!
There were also humorous incidents to keep us entertained. In any spare moments Father Neil Kelley could be seen memorising from his prompt cards and was word perfect until the final recording of his introduction of the BBC Radio 2 Choir Girl of the Year, when he earned a spot in 'It'll be Alright on the Night'. He was also clearly feeling the heat under the lights during the dress rehearsal of the Communion Rite for the Advent 3 service when, during a technical pause, he took a draught from the chalice (containing water only at that stage!). Stan the floor manager did a stand-in rendition of the Advent poem 'There was a Time' (for timing purposes as it happens) - as they say, you just had to be there! The real thing was moving beyond belief. And then there was the poignant moment when into the silence came the echoing sound of a decoration falling off the Christmas tree!

All this doesn't sound very reverent, I hear you say. A dress rehearsal, a final recording and all those interruptions. Well indeed, but the recording crew were superb and went about their jobs as sensitively as possible and at no time did I feel other than part of acts of worship. I love Advent services and found there every sense of expectation, hope and awe. Bishop James' sermons (which were only heard once, at the final recording) on the environmental theme of the series were thought provoking and entertaining. The music was stunning and the whole experience, if exhausting, totally worthwhile.

And the end result? I loved it but judge for yourself. In my vanity, I have recorded both services and will gladly lend out the video and point out the back of my head!

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