Aled Jones in Swanage for filming of BBC’s Songs of Praise

Hundreds of residents and visitors flocked to Prince Albert Gardens in Swanage for the first Songs of Praise filming of hymn singing for 18 months.

Congregational singing in churches was stopped in its tracks by Covid regulations leaving the Songs of Praise production team unable to film.

However, now that restrictions have eased, Swanage was chosen as the BBC programme’s first filming location and Aled Jones, a regular presenter of the programme, performed two hymns.

The event took place in the late afternoon on Thursday 29th July 2021.

Aled Jones

The singer Aled Jones is a regular presenter of the TV programme Songs of Praise

Backing singers

The backing singers rehearse

Simon Lole

The conductor Simon Lole, who’s also the Director of Music at St Mary’s Church in Swanage

“It’s amazing to be back”

Speaking to Swanage.News, Aled Jones said:

“It’s actually exactly 10 years to the day since I was in Swanage, performing a concert in St Mary’s Church, so it’s amazing to be back.

“It was a great feeling driving down here. We haven’t been able to film congregational singing for a long time – it’s so incredibly nice.”

Aled Jones

“150 tour dates magically disappeared”

Like so many singers, musicians and performers, work for Aled initially ground to a halt at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020.

He continued:

“For the first two to three months everything stopped for me and along with much of the country I drank too much sauvignon blanc! The sun was out but then reality struck. It was like a scene from Harry Potter as 150 tour dates magically disappeared.

“I was meant to tour Australia but that was postponed and probably not happening now for two years. I had a tour of 26 cathedrals planned although that is now going ahead next February and March with singer Carly Paoli.

“For much of the last year, I’ve been able to continue recording, doing some filming and also writing – that’s what I’ve really been able to improve during lockdown – my writing!

“I brought out a new book ‘Everyday Blessings’ last November and I’ve got another book out at the end of the year but I can’t say anything about it yet – nothing’s been announced.

“It’ll be good to get back to normal. It’s so nice to see all the old faces again of the Songs of Praise team – really lovely to see everyone!”

The mayor and deputy mayor at Songs of Praise

Swanage Town’s deputy mayor, councillor Tina Foster and mayor, councillor Avril Harris join in the singing

Town Crier

Swanage Town Crier Andrew Fleming lends his voice to the event

Swanage Lifeboat in the background of Aled Jones rehearsing

Even Swanage’s all weather lifeboat puts in an appearance during Aled Jones’s soundcheck!

Special Jurassic Coast edition of Songs of Praise

The crew filmed the singing of 10 hymns including classics like All Things Bright and Beautiful, How Great Thou Art and Jerusalem.

The filming is scheduled to be broadcast on BBC2 on Sunday 22nd August 2021 in a special Jurassic Coast edition of Songs of Praise.

Inside the Songs of Praise OB truck
Songs of Praise

The director Karen Hannah in the outside broadcast truck monitoring all the camera shots

Sunset at Songs of Praise

The recording finished at about 8 pm just as the sun started to set behind Prince Albert Gardens

“Everyone has been really helpful”

Songs of Praise producer, Judith Sharp said:

“Coming to Swanage has been really good. Everyone has been really helpful, especially Gail and Culvin at Swanage Town Council – it makes our job much easier when we are made so welcome.

“We’d recced Swanage as a filming location a couple of times before the pandemic, so it was in our minds and Simon Lole who’s conducting, is down here but essentially Karen the director and I, just went on Google Earth and spotted Prince Albert Gardens and thought it was just the place to film and we are so glad we did!

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