March 3, 2005
BBC’s Songs Of Praise TV show coming to Burnham-On-Sea?
The BBC’s popular religious TV programme ‘Songs Of Praise’ could be filmed from Burnham-On-Sea this Spring.
Burnham’s Mayor, Louise Parkin, has been approached by the programme’s producers about a special outside broadcast being based outside the town’s Pavilion, which is the shortest pier in Britain, and next to the town’s lighthouse, which is the only wooden beach lighthouse in the UK.
Louise told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “The BBC wants to broadcast Songs Of Praise from a pier and has therefore sent out information to all pier owners across the UK.
“We’ve sent them back a picture of Burnham’s Pavilion along with some information about the building from Burnham-On-Sea.com, and material from myself and Neville Jones.
“They’ve already written back to say they haven’t yet decided where to broadcast the show from, but that whatever happens, they are definitely thinking about using Burnham in the future.”
If Songs Of Praise is broadcast from Burnham it could certainly raise the profile of the town.
The programme is watched by up to 11 million viewers each Sunday evening on BBC1 and is also shown on many other television channels around the world.
The coastal-themed episode is due to go out in June and Louise has offered full co-operation from the town council and also informed the show’s producers that she and her faimily – who run Burnham pier – would remove tables, chairs and machines from the front of the building to provide extra room for the film crew and congregation. They would also ensure that flowers around the building are in full bloom.
Burnham’s pier has been in the spotlight recently thanks to the launch of Burnham-On-Sea.com’s live Seafront Webcam which shows constantly updated images of the seafront 24 hours a day.
.10 GOOD REASONS WHY ‘SONGS OF PRAISE’ SHOULD COME TO BURNHAM:
As part of the bid to attract the BBC to Burnham, Louise Parkin prepared this list of reasons why the show should come here:
1. As far as can be remembered by churchgoers, no such programme either TV or radio has ever been broadcast from the town of Burnham-On-Sea: Why? Because it always get overshadowed by the much larger and better known resort of Weston-super-mare (which also has an expert publicity machine).
2. Where other seaside resorts might boast the longest pier, the oldest pier, or even the most derelict pier (when in search of grant aid), we just have the shortest pier.
3. However, the pier is unique in that it was the first building of its kind in Europe built by the newly invented system, which we now know more conveniently as re-enforced concrete.
4. The first non-Booth family man of the Salvation Army to lead the world-wide organisation was born within our joint parish of Burnham-on-sea and Highbridge, and his mother is buried in Burnham churchyard as well as another famous name, that of Field Marshal Montgomery’s wife and the parents of our most famous son, Frank Foley, the Berlin passport officer who saved 10,000 Jews from the gas chamber. Although he was born and educated here only his parents were laid to rest locally but a statue to this hero of World War 2 will we hope is erected this year after many years of fundraising. Finally, Sir John Pople, winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1998 was also born here where he lived with his parents until after the Second World War in 1946.
5. Burnham-On-Sea is renowned for its glorious sunsets, indeed it is rumoured that the great British landscape artist, Turner, came here to the coast to gather inspiration.
6. Burnham-On-Sea boasted a children’s seaside mission, going back to the First World War, where youngsters would play games, learn and sing hymns about Jesus accompanied by a portable harmonium and build sand castles. A real nostalgic memory of less frenetic holidays. These missions for six weeks every year continued right up until the middle nineties.
7. Burnham-On-Sea is located at the confluence of two rivers which drain Somersetshire, the river Parrett and the river Brue, and where they then join the river Severn. This stretch of coast has the second highest rise and fall in the world (the other is in Newfoundland), with a rise of over 12 metres, some 40 feet. Safety at sea for those who come to enjoy the waters both at Burnham and at Brean (where in the summer months some 50,000 people find accommodation, where else in Britain would you find 50,000 beds), whether in the water or on the water, on water-skis, jet-skis, wind-surfing, sailing boats or hang-glider surfing or swimming, the safety of those enjoying themselves is paramount to local people. We have not only an HM Coastguard Station, but also a new £500,000 RNLI Station and the local Burnham Area Rescue Boat service with its specially built hovercraft (a £120,000 project paid for entirely by West Country people through the local regional morning paper).
8. Burnham’s lighthouse on the sands, erected in the 1820’s on nine stout oaken posts is thought to be unique, and is very much the town’s symbol (it is a major feature on the town crest and my mayor’s chain). Though it’s better known high lighthouse, now a private house was built originally to replace the one on the sands, as the old saying goes, they don’t build them like they used to, and in fact the lower lighthouse was re-commissioned to serve its original purpose and emits a light to aid shipping entering the channel to sail to the port of Bridgwater.
9. Though its hotels of yesteryear are now put to other purposes, the Burnham Holiday Village can find accommodation far in excess of their total in their heyday as the Village can accommodate 3,500 visitors alone whilst other smaller centres can double that figure and more.
10. The towns of Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge and their inhabitants are working towards a regeneration bid from various agencies. We could well do with help to compete against other resorts which qualify government cash and your programme might well close the deal for us.