New BBC TV series: 'Catholics'

Archbishop Nichols with four new priests

Archbishop Nichols with four new priests

The Catholic Church in the Diocese of Westminster is set to feature in a new series of three films to be shown on BBC 4 Television in February and March 2012.

Produced by documentary film maker Richard Alwyn, 'Catholics' goes behind the headlines to explore what it is like to be Catholic  today. Each of the three films - one about men, one about women, one about children - is an intimate portrait of a different Catholic world, revealing Catholicism to be a rich and complex identity and observing how this identity shapes people's lives.

The series starts on Tuesday February 21, 9pm, with 'Priests' filmed over six months and  an intimate behind-the-scenes portrait of Allen Hall seminary in London.

In  the film, Richard Alwyn meets men who called to the priesthood.

Rob Hunt is in his first year at Allen Hall. A cradle Catholic, he ignored his faith for years, had several relationships and worked in various jobs, spending time as a roadie for a Heavy Metal band, before deciding his life was veering off course. With little education, he thought he had as much chance of becoming a priest as an astronaut.

At the other end of the seminary, Andrew Gallagher is in his final year. Now 30 years old, he worked in a City law firm before joining the seminary.  He sees this not as a career change but as a response to a life-long calling – at school, his nickname was “Priest”. Andrew Connick, is also in the last year of his ‘formation’. It was only at the end of his university years that he felt he too could no longer resist a calling that had been with him all his life.

'I will give you shepherds after my own heart', said the prophet Jeremiah, stating God’s chosen method for guiding and caring for His people.  Priests examines the lives of those who believe themselves to be God’s shepherds in the 21st Century.


'Show me the child of seven and I'll show you the man', goes the Jesuit proverb.  The second film Children, to be shown on Tuesday February 28 at 9pm, observes the truth of this famous saying in a film about children becoming Catholic.

Filmed throughout the period of Lent and into the summer of 2011, it focuses on the children of St Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School in the village of Chipping, Lancashire. Sitting at the foot of the dramatic Bowland Fells, this is an area rich in Catholic history where Catholic identity remains strong. The tiny school has just 33 pupils, six of whom are preparing to make their First Holy Communion.

Richard Alwyn’s  film observes the essence of Catholicism being distilled into young children’s hearts and minds.  Encouraged on the one hand to celebrate the riches of the natural world that surround them and to remember those less fortunate than themselves, the children are also required to reflect on Christ’s death and resurrection.


Women,  the third film in the series to be shown on Tuesday March 6 at 9pm, focuses on  Catholic women and  how Catholicism has shaped their lives.

Filmed at Westminster Cathedral, Richard Alwyn meets the women staff, volunteers and congregation of the Cathedral. Set against the backdrop of the rhythm of Cathedral life, Richard Alwyn film explores what it is like to be a Catholic woman in Britain today.

Rose is second-in-charge of the Cathedral’s sacristy. She is responsible for the smooth running of the Cathedral’s worship and devotional life, preparing the altar for the six daily Masses and making sure that the priests have all they need to administer to the faithful. A convert, for Rose, Catholicism has proved to be an anchor in her life, sheltering her in crisis and protecting her in need.

Elsewhere, Alwyn meets a retired doctor on the steps of the Cathedral for whom Catholicism poses  challenges. The church’s teachings have led to her feeling alienated and unable to practise even though she may still occasionally attend. Yet despite these difficulties, she feels her Catholic identity remains strong, providing her with an important moral core that helps her with the chaos of life.

These and other encounters form the backbone of Richard Alwyn’s film in  which he explores the complex ways in which Catholicism shapes women’s lives.

Catholics is produced by Wingspan Production in association with Jerusalem Productions.

Source: Archbishops House

Tags: Catholics, Richard Alwyn

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