Songs of Praise is the BBC’s longest running flagship religious programme having just celebrated its 52nd year on BBC One. The idea for the show is a simple but highly effective one - to broadcast inspiring hymns and songs, together with uplifting stories of faith from around the UK and beyond. It has been enthralling audiences and congregations for centuries. The first edition was broadcast from the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cardiff back in 1961. My association with Songs of Praise goes back a long time but not quite to the beginning! I was first asked to be a guest on the show whilst I was a chorister at Bangor Cathedral in the 80’s. Spool forward some twenty years and I found myself presenting an episode from my old stamping ground of Bangor. It was a wonderful and really memorable experience for me for obvious reasons. I have been fortunate to present Songs of Praise regularly for the last 15 years and there have been many highlights. I remember vividly hosting one Remembrance Day edition from the Falkland Islands. What a trip that was! It was minus 20 degrees for most of the time we were there and I was the coldest I have ever been in my life. I remember checking into our hotel in Stanley where there’s really nothing much to look at apart from the occasional penguin and a few restaurants and bars and the gentleman in reception saying, “We’ve put you in our only suite”. I thanked him and he followed it up with ”You’re very fortunate, the only other people to have ever slept in that bed are Alan Titchmarsh and Jim Davidson”!
Another stand out moment during my stint on the programme is the Big Sing event held at the Royal Albert Hall in London every year, which I have fronted since it’s inception in 2001. There is nothing quite as exhilarating as 6000 people raising their voices in song, whether it’s a hymn or a Christmas carol. I am so privileged to be involved in such an auspicious occasion. I also so enjoy presenting the ‘School Choir of the Year’ competition every year, which is a wonderful showcase for some of the UK’s best choirs.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing though. I actually made it onto Auntie’s Bloomers on my first programme when I forgot to sing, ‘Amen’ on my close up! There I was, chest out and showing off in front of the camera because the director had told me to, and when everyone around me sang that last word I just ended up standing there bright red and looking very flustered. Then I just burst out laughing! Who says religion can’t be fun!!
I am so proud to be the host of what is without doubt a British institution.
“I love interviewing the biggest stars in the world but it gives me just as much pleasure spending time with inspiring members of the public on Songs of Praise”.