BBC Four's 'Catholics' Series

16/02/2012 12:45 pm

Filmed over six months and with extraordinary access, 'Catholics' is a new three-part series directed by award-winning documentary film-maker Richard Alwyn about being Catholic in Britain today. The three films – one about men, one about women, one about children – offer an insight into different Catholic realities revealing Catholicism to be a rich but complex identity and observing how this identity shapes people’s lives.

The three 60-minute programmes will be screened on BBC Four starting on Thursday, 23 February at 9pm.


Seminarians from Allen Hall, Westminster

Thursday, 23 February, 9pm, BBC Four

In the film, Richard Alwyn meets men who are 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.


School pupil during the lunch break at a Catholic Primary

Thursday, 1 March, 9pm, BBC Four

'Show me the child of seven and I'll show you the man', goes the Jesuit proverb. The second film, 'Children', 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, 6 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.


Woman working at Westminster Cathedral

Thursday, 8 March, 9pm, BBC Four

Women, the third and final film in the series, 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.


"Not to be missed," says the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols. "A call to the priesthood is a wonderful gift of God for a Catholic man today. This truth is explored, and beautifully portrayed. It is not to be missed. Each of the three documentaries has been made with great sensitivity and real beauty. I recommend them."


'Catholics' a Wingspan Production in association with Jerusalem Productions.


BBC Four - Catholics