The BBC is to broadcast an episode of its flagship religious show Songs of Praise from the migrant camp near Calais.
The episode, which will feature left-wing Anglican cleric Giles Fraser, is already in the process of being filmed, and The Sun reports that the full crew from the show will likely arrive this weekend.
Fraser – who famously quit as Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral in support of the ‘Occupy London’ protests – told the paper: “They aren’t illegal immigrants, yet. I have no problem with the BBC filming Songs of Praise here. I think the church is the real thing. It is in the centre of the community.”
Filming was halted at one point, though, after one migrant insisted he should not be filmed. Another worshipper also confessed to having already tried to illegally enter the UK 30 times.
“I pray in church for good health so I can get to England. I know God will help me. I try every night to get to England,” Ezekiel Lala said.
Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell slammed the BBC’s decision, saying: “This is an insensitive thing to do. We are facing a grave crisis. The BBC should be careful not to start looking as if they are making political points out of this.”
Songs of Praise has been broadcasting services from churches and cathedrals across the UK for more than 50 years, but came in for heavy criticism last year after relaunching as a magazine-style show with a few added hymns.
The change angered viewers, including members of the clergy, who accused the BBC of removing any real Christian worship from the show. The Rev Sally Hitchiner, senior chaplain at Brunel University, told the BBC’s Points of View show: “I think there is a question as to whether or not this is inspiring us to worship or whether it’s just a whole load of nice people doing something in their community – and Songs of Praise should be about worship.”
One viewer tweeted yesterday:
— Jo Hugh (@obknit) August 7, 2015