Our Passion was shared by 1.3 million

EASTER EVENT ... shipping containers marking out the shape of the Cross in Bents Park, South Shields. Below, Alexandra Burke.
EASTER EVENT ... shipping containers marking out the shape of the Cross in Bents Park, South Shields. Below, Alexandra Burke.

THE BBC’s flagship Easter programme from South Shields reached an audience of 1.3m, new figures show.

Organisers of last month’s Great North Passion say they are thrilled with the audience figures.

The Great North Passion was staged in Bents Park, South Shields, on Good Friday and broadcast live on BBC One from noon.

Figures released by the BBC show that at its peak, 1.3m viewers were watching the programme, which was hosted by Fern Britton and featured X Factor winner Alexandra Burke and Ross Millard and Jaff Craig from The Futureheads.

The audience share of the programme was 11.2 per cent nationally, but more than 30 per cent in the region.

In addition to more than 3,500 people who attended the live event, several thousands more flocked to Bents Park over the Easter weekend to appreciate the 12 community projects that retold the story of Christ’s last hours.

The Great North Passion was a collaboration between the BBC and the Cultural Spring, a £2m Arts Council funded project working in five wards in South Tyneside and five in Sunderland.

The Cultural Spring’s partners are the University of Sunderland; The Customs House, South Shields, and the Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture Trust.

Rebecca Ball, project director for the Cultural Spring, said: “We are delighted that the Great North Passion proved so popular. It was a special project, and a perfect launch event for the Cultural Spring.

“I think the local viewing figures are amazing and proof that people of the North East are very interested in locally-produced arts and events.

“The local TV audience and thousands of people who attended Bents Park over the Easter weekend really wanted to see the 12 local community projects that so much work, invention and talent went into.

“The feedback we’ve had back from the artists, the communities, the audience and the BBC has all been very positive and we’re thrilled is was such a big success.”

The Cultural Spring’s next major project will be the Summer Streets, a music event to be held in Thompson Park, Southwick, Sunderland, in July.

A programme of taster sessions is being rolled out across the project’s wards in north Sunderland and South Tyneside.

Fore more information on these sessions, go to www.theculturalspring.co.uk

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