Final preparations for The Great North Passion

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WEARSIDE communities are making their final preparations to take part in a national television broadcast.

Good Friday will see BBC One screen The Great North Passion – a retelling of the final hours of Jesus’ life.

The programme, presented by Fern Britton and staring X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke, will feature dance, work by graffiti artists, poetry and a massed choir led by opera singer Graeme Danby, a visiting professor at Sunderland University.

Groups in Red House, Town End Farm, St Andrew’s in Roker and from Sunderland Minister, along with others from Souter Lighthouse in Whitburn and Boldon School, have been among those to work with artists to interpret themes based on the Stations of the Cross.

The project is a collaboration between the BBC and The Cultural Spring, a £2million Arts Council-funded scheme working in five wards in Sunderland and another five in nerighbouring South Tyneside. Graeme Thompson, dean of the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media at the university, is chairman of The Cultural Spring, which brings together the university, the Customs House, South Shields and Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture Trust.

He said: “The Great North Passion is a tremendous launch pad for The Cultural Spring.

“Our vision – to engage communities across Sunderland and South Tyneside in great art – is at the heart of the event we are producing with the BBC.”

Good Friday’s live broadcast from Bents Park in South Shields will start at noon in front of a congregation of several thousand.