03/01/2016 Songs of Praise


03/01/2016

Ann Widdecombe goes behind the scenes of BBC drama Father Brown, and Aled Jones is in the North East to hear about Hen Power and how it can help battle loneliness.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 03/01/2016. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Today on Songs Of Praise, I'll be finding out how chickens can

0:00:020:00:05

combat loneliness and helping me will be this group from the North East.

0:00:050:00:09

They are known as "hensioners", not pensioners.

0:00:090:00:12

Also in the programme, Richard Taylor,

0:00:120:00:14

our very own church detective, is in Haworth in West Yorkshire

0:00:140:00:18

exploring its links with the Bronte family.

0:00:180:00:22

And I'm here in the Cotswolds for a sneak preview

0:00:220:00:25

of the new series of Father Brown, the crime-solving priest.

0:00:250:00:29

Chesterton wrote him as a short, stumpy priest.

0:00:290:00:31

I play him as a larger, fat priest.

0:00:310:00:34

And we've no shortage of great hymns and songs to inspire you,

0:00:420:00:46

starting with this one -

0:00:460:00:47

a stirring epiphany hymn from Ipswich.

0:00:470:00:50

Loneliness is a growing problem.

0:03:120:03:15

For many, it could be pretty miserable.

0:03:150:03:18

Over a million pensioners here in the UK say they haven't spoken

0:03:180:03:21

to a friend, neighbour or family member for at least a month.

0:03:210:03:24

But I've come to a sheltered housing project

0:03:260:03:28

here in Gateshead that is doing its part to combat

0:03:280:03:31

loneliness in a surprising way by enlisting some special help -

0:03:310:03:35

chickens.

0:03:350:03:37

Hen Power is a scheme that uses these bird buddies

0:03:370:03:40

to reduce loneliness and depression.

0:03:400:03:42

I want to find out how the residents here in Wood Green

0:03:420:03:44

have been won over.

0:03:440:03:46

Hens have lived here alongside the residents for four years now

0:03:530:03:56

as part of a project run by the charity Equal Arts

0:03:560:04:00

and it's expanding across the country.

0:04:000:04:02

-This one is having a good look at me.

-He's seen you on the telly.

0:04:020:04:05

Do you think he has seen me on the telly? Is that what it is?!

0:04:050:04:08

89-year-old Thomas Cresswell, known as Ossie,

0:04:100:04:13

is one of the people who've benefited.

0:04:130:04:15

Twice widowed, Ossie has lived alone in his bungalow for 16 years.

0:04:190:04:23

Loneliness is a terrible thing.

0:04:240:04:27

Every day is the same.

0:04:290:04:31

Nothing interests you.

0:04:310:04:33

I mean, people, they don't know you.

0:04:340:04:38

You don't know them, you know.

0:04:380:04:40

You're a world apart. You are living on your own.

0:04:400:04:43

You have nobody to talk to, no friend,

0:04:450:04:48

nobody to help you with these things.

0:04:480:04:51

You are grasping for straws, really.

0:04:510:04:53

When your wife dies, you've got nothing left.

0:04:540:04:57

It's like half of you dying, isn't it?

0:04:570:05:00

And when half of you is dying,

0:05:010:05:03

you haven't got no will to live yourself.

0:05:030:05:06

You've got no time for television or anything.

0:05:060:05:09

You just want to sit in the garden

0:05:100:05:14

and reminisce things you had with your wife and things like this.

0:05:140:05:18

Did faith make a difference?

0:05:180:05:20

It helps you.

0:05:210:05:23

Because when you are on your own, you forget about people.

0:05:230:05:27

You think about the end of your life...

0:05:270:05:29

..and what's going to happen to you, then.

0:05:310:05:34

But I was brought up in a church when I was young.

0:05:340:05:38

And at night, I still say my night prayers,

0:05:390:05:43

such as the wife, I will always say a prayer for her,

0:05:430:05:47

and the people that's next to us that's got problems, you know.

0:05:470:05:52

So who have we got here? Who is this?

0:05:520:05:55

-That is Betty. That's right, she will settle down.

-Hello.

0:05:560:06:00

-That is the first time I have fed a hen.

-They are friendly.

0:06:000:06:04

-They will not hurt you, you know.

-She's lovely.

0:06:040:06:07

-I just hold her by the feet with the right hand.

-Right.

0:06:070:06:11

-Right hand by the feet. Like that.

-Not too tight.

0:06:110:06:14

She will settle down. Put her on top of your knees. She'll not...

0:06:140:06:18

-They're lovely.

-She will not bother you, no.

0:06:190:06:22

These make a great difference in my life.

0:06:220:06:26

It has made a great difference to other people's lives.

0:06:260:06:29

In what way has it made a difference?

0:06:290:06:32

It gets me out of the house, it gets me meeting people.

0:06:320:06:35

So it has been a godsend to me,

0:06:350:06:38

but we also try to convey this to other people

0:06:380:06:42

that haven't got anything.

0:06:420:06:44

They live outside my back door. I say, "Hello, darlings, how are you?"

0:06:440:06:48

And they come up to us.

0:06:480:06:50

They actually do all come running and you're talking

0:06:500:06:52

and they are pecking and shouting at you.

0:06:520:06:55

-People don't realise how nice and warm and soft they are.

-They are.

0:06:550:06:58

I am amazed. I never realised either.

0:06:580:07:01

When you take them to children's schools, they are just gobsmacked.

0:07:010:07:05

We take the hens to old people's homes.

0:07:060:07:10

There are people looking out the window. They have got nothing.

0:07:100:07:13

They don't talk to each other. Silence is golden in places.

0:07:130:07:18

But when I go with the hens, you cause a bit of havoc.

0:07:180:07:22

Everybody is looking and the place comes alive for a few hours.

0:07:220:07:26

You get the hens out and they are walking about.

0:07:260:07:29

-They're the focal point, aren't they?

-They are the focal point.

0:07:290:07:32

-We have hen nights to raise money.

-Not like the normal hen nights?!

0:07:320:07:35

Not them.

0:07:350:07:37

We have events, what we call a hen night, which is a social evening

0:07:370:07:40

and we have raffles and things.

0:07:400:07:42

And the money goes to help the hens if they need anything.

0:07:420:07:45

How do you feel now when you have Betty in your arms?

0:07:470:07:50

I feel as though I've got light in my hands.

0:07:500:07:54

You sit looking at the wall if you haven't got chickens, you know.

0:07:540:07:58

Do you thank God for them?

0:07:580:08:00

I thank everybody for them, especially God.

0:08:000:08:04

If it hadn't have been for him, I wouldn't be here looking after them.

0:08:040:08:09

God has given me the strength and the mind to talk about them

0:08:100:08:15

and make other people happy.

0:08:150:08:17

Tomorrow sees the much-anticipated return

0:10:560:10:59

of the BBC drama Father Brown.

0:10:590:11:01

We sent Ann Widdecombe on location in the Cotswolds

0:11:010:11:03

to investigate its enduring popularity.

0:11:030:11:06

And action.

0:11:060:11:08

Father Brown is a drama about a humble parish priest who uses

0:11:080:11:12

his intuition to solve grisly crimes amongst the rolling Cotswold Hills.

0:11:120:11:17

A ratings hit on weekday afternoons, it is selling all over the world.

0:11:190:11:23

And I'm getting a sneak preview.

0:11:240:11:26

It's based on the famous novels of GK Chesterton,

0:11:280:11:31

penned over a century ago.

0:11:310:11:33

But...

0:11:330:11:34

..I will need a lift to this bar.

0:11:360:11:37

I can lend you Hornby and the Rolls.

0:11:370:11:40

This fashion of Father Brown is set in the 1950s.

0:11:400:11:44

In his books, GK Chesterton describes Father Brown

0:11:440:11:47

as a dumpy figure with an owlish head.

0:11:470:11:50

I wonder what current Father Brown, Mark Williams, makes of that?

0:11:500:11:54

Chesterton wrote him as a short, stumpy priest.

0:11:540:11:57

I play him as a larger, fat priest.

0:11:570:12:00

I feel I'm very close to him in a lot of ways,

0:12:000:12:03

one of which is endless inquisitiveness,

0:12:030:12:06

or nosiness, perhaps we should call it.

0:12:060:12:08

-Absolutely, and that, of course, is his great strength.

-Yes.

0:12:080:12:11

How do you prepare to play a priest?

0:12:110:12:13

I read a lot and my upbringing is in the Anglican tradition

0:12:130:12:19

as a chorister and at university and stuff.

0:12:190:12:23

I was really, really interested in reading about Catholic liturgy.

0:12:230:12:27

The other thing about Father Brown is he is a detective.

0:12:270:12:29

Although he is part of the whodunnit British tradition,

0:12:290:12:32

he is different in the sense that what's at stake

0:12:320:12:35

is not a conundrum or a crossword puzzle in the Christie mould,

0:12:350:12:40

but it is people's souls.

0:12:400:12:43

So his emotional connection with the problem is that much deeper.

0:12:430:12:49

And that is a great thing for an actor to play.

0:12:490:12:53

I am finally happy, Father.

0:12:530:12:55

Historical and religious accuracy

0:12:550:12:57

are very important to the production.

0:12:570:12:59

The wrong costume or hymnbook could lead to complaints

0:12:590:13:02

from its millions of viewers,

0:13:020:13:04

so they employ 83-year-old Father Anthony Nye

0:13:040:13:06

as their religious adviser.

0:13:060:13:08

-Thank you, Father.

-There we are. Welcome.

-Oh, I say.

0:13:080:13:13

Look, we've got a confessional.

0:13:130:13:15

They have done a very good job of that.

0:13:150:13:17

-That is where Father Brown sits and hears it all.

-That's right.

0:13:170:13:21

And you wouldn't get one of those in the average Anglican church.

0:13:210:13:24

What does being a religious adviser involve?

0:13:260:13:29

Reading the scripts carefully to see that it is authentic

0:13:290:13:34

for the way the Catholic Church was in the 1950s.

0:13:340:13:38

Did you ever have to intervene in a more general way and say,

0:13:380:13:42

"No, that's not right?"

0:13:420:13:43

Yes.

0:13:430:13:45

Like the bishop, very irascible, saying "Brown".

0:13:450:13:50

Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no.

0:13:500:13:52

No, a Catholic bishop, even if he is irascible, wouldn't do that.

0:13:520:13:57

-So I said he must be called Father Brown.

-Or Father.

-Or Father.

0:13:570:14:02

Why do you think Chesterton wrote a book with a priest as a detective?

0:14:020:14:08

Because he, like myself and yourself,

0:14:080:14:12

was a convert who was very much taken

0:14:120:14:16

with the wisdom of Catholicism and he wanted to show a character

0:14:160:14:21

not just solving problems but showing humanity and wisdom.

0:14:210:14:27

Now, can you see yourself solving a murder?

0:14:270:14:30

I think I might, having read all those scripts!

0:14:300:14:34

What is the appeal of Father Brown?

0:14:400:14:43

He doesn't judge and he is fascinated by life.

0:14:430:14:48

The attractiveness of his character,

0:14:480:14:51

that you can be a Catholic priest and you can be human.

0:14:510:14:55

Just like Holmes or Marple or Poirot,

0:14:560:15:00

there is an enduring appeal to Father Brown.

0:15:000:15:04

But I don't think it's because he solved crimes.

0:15:040:15:07

I think it's because he was a Christian

0:15:070:15:10

and he was driven by compassion, humanity and the love of others.

0:15:100:15:15

# The Lord bless you and keep you

0:15:220:15:28

# The Lord make his face to shine upon you

0:15:280:15:33

# To shine upon you and be gracious

0:15:330:15:39

# And be gracious unto you

0:15:390:15:44

# The Lord bless you and keep you

0:15:450:15:50

# The Lord make his face to shine upon you

0:15:500:15:56

# To shine upon you and be gracious

0:15:560:16:00

# To shine upon you and be gracious

0:16:000:16:02

# And be gracious unto you

0:16:020:16:07

# The Lord lift up the light

0:16:070:16:13

# Of his countenance upon you

0:16:130:16:18

# The Lord lift up the light

0:16:180:16:24

# Of his countenance upon you

0:16:240:16:31

# And give you peace

0:16:310:16:36

# And give you peace

0:16:370:16:42

# And give you peace

0:16:430:16:47

# And give you peace

0:16:480:16:54

# Amen

0:16:540:16:59

# Amen

0:17:000:17:05

-# Amen

-Amen, amen

0:17:060:17:11

-# Amen

-Amen

0:17:110:17:15

-# Amen

-A-a-amen

0:17:150:17:20

# Amen. #

0:17:200:17:28

Coming up, our very own church detective, Richard Taylor,

0:17:350:17:39

continues his literary travels, this time in Haworth, West Yorkshire.

0:17:390:17:43

He's on the trail of three authors from the same family - the Bronte sisters.

0:17:430:17:47

But first, it's to Tooting in London for this contemporary classic.

0:17:470:17:50

In the mid-1840s here in the village of Haworth in West Yorkshire,

0:20:510:20:56

three daughters of the local minister

0:20:560:20:58

each decided to write a novel.

0:20:580:21:02

In less than one year, the Bronte sisters had written Jane Eyre,

0:21:020:21:07

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Wuthering Heights -

0:21:070:21:12

three of our best loved and most romantic novels

0:21:120:21:15

with their darkly brooding heroes,

0:21:150:21:18

their passionate heroines,

0:21:180:21:20

set against a backdrop of wild moorland and stormy weather.

0:21:200:21:25

But the story of the Brontes

0:21:260:21:28

isn't just a story of astonishing creativity,

0:21:280:21:32

it's also a story of terrible tragedy and of profound faith.

0:21:320:21:37

Patrick Bronte and his wife, Maria,

0:21:410:21:43

arrived here in 1820 with their six small children

0:21:430:21:47

when Patrick was appointed curate of the local parish church.

0:21:470:21:51

This was their world.

0:21:510:21:52

The church, the parsonage behind it, and the moorland beyond.

0:21:520:21:57

The body of the church has been replaced,

0:21:590:22:01

but this is the original belltower,

0:22:010:22:04

beneath which the family would have walked each Sunday

0:22:040:22:07

to hear their father's famously passionate sermons.

0:22:070:22:10

But within 18 months Maria had died,

0:22:110:22:14

leaving Patrick to bring up six small children.

0:22:140:22:17

For all that, the Brontes' home life was lively and loving.

0:22:200:22:24

Patrick encouraged the children's love of literature and the arts.

0:22:240:22:28

And the siblings would spend hours together creating imaginary worlds.

0:22:280:22:33

To find out more, I'm meeting with Ann Dinsdale

0:22:350:22:38

in the parsonage itself, which is now a museum to the Brontes.

0:22:380:22:42

A lot of their writing was produced in this room

0:22:440:22:47

on this particular dining table.

0:22:470:22:49

-Actually here?

-Yes.

0:22:490:22:51

Charlotte's Jane Eyre, Emily's Wuthering Heights

0:22:510:22:54

and Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

0:22:540:22:56

were all written at this very table.

0:22:560:22:58

They would walk around the table reading aloud from their work

0:22:580:23:02

and discussing their writing projects.

0:23:020:23:04

What role did religion play in the lives of the Brontes?

0:23:040:23:09

Well, they were the daughters of a clergyman.

0:23:090:23:12

They were expected to attend church on a regular basis.

0:23:120:23:16

Outwardly, very kind of religious, dutiful lives.

0:23:160:23:20

But then, you know, they almost had double lives

0:23:200:23:23

where they had this intense imaginary world going on -

0:23:230:23:27

people with these wild aristocratic characters.

0:23:270:23:31

Everything that Haworth wasn't, really.

0:23:310:23:33

Tragedy hit the family again in the late 1840s.

0:23:360:23:39

Emily died of tuberculosis aged 30,

0:23:400:23:44

brother Branwell aged 31 and just a year later Anne died aged 29.

0:23:440:23:50

Charlotte was the last surviving sister

0:23:510:23:54

until in 1855 she too died aged just 39.

0:23:540:24:00

Astonishingly, Patrick their father

0:24:000:24:03

was the last surviving member of the family.

0:24:030:24:06

You can hardly imagine how he coped, but he did,

0:24:060:24:09

continuing to serve in the church until the day he died.

0:24:090:24:13

Here, beneath this column, is the family vault.

0:24:130:24:16

What I've learnt here is that there is no story of the Brontes -

0:24:190:24:25

there are many stories.

0:24:250:24:27

There is a story of tragedy as dark as any Victorian novel.

0:24:270:24:31

There's the story of the sisters circling their dining room table

0:24:310:24:36

and conjuring their amazing characters.

0:24:360:24:39

There's the story of strength.

0:24:390:24:41

And there's the story of faith

0:24:410:24:44

And there's the story of family.

0:24:440:24:46

And there's the story of love.

0:24:460:24:49

Earlier in the programme,

0:27:110:27:13

I met with "hensioners", as they call themselves,

0:27:130:27:15

here at Wood Green sheltered accommodation near Gateshead.

0:27:150:27:19

They have found an unusual way to combat loneliness -

0:27:210:27:24

by keeping hens.

0:27:240:27:26

The chickens are known to improve wellbeing.

0:27:260:27:28

Hello, Bell. Hello, flower.

0:27:280:27:31

And for 83-year-old Pam Snowball, they have transformed her life.

0:27:310:27:36

So what did you feel like when they first came up

0:27:360:27:38

with the idea for you guys to have hens?

0:27:380:27:40

I thought it was mad.

0:27:400:27:43

I did. I thought it was crazy.

0:27:430:27:45

I says, "An 80-year-old looking after hens?!"

0:27:450:27:48

I says, "Well, I'm very apprehensive about that."

0:27:480:27:51

So what happened was,

0:27:510:27:53

all the ladies that said they were interested in looking after hens

0:27:530:27:58

had a hen named after them.

0:27:580:28:00

So we had Doreen, Jenny, me, Pam, Rose.

0:28:000:28:04

What difference has it made to your life having these hens?

0:28:040:28:08

It has filled a great big hole.

0:28:080:28:10

-Really?

-Really. Honestly.

0:28:100:28:12

When I came to live around here, I had lost my husband.

0:28:120:28:16

We did everything together and I didn't have a separate life.

0:28:160:28:20

So you've got to make a new life for yourself

0:28:200:28:22

and that is how they came into my life.

0:28:220:28:24

-They have got to be put to bed at night.

-Oh, right.

0:28:240:28:27

-Do you sing them lullabies?

-Not quite.

0:28:270:28:30

They are very therapeutic.

0:28:300:28:33

We take them to schools and all over and it's great.

0:28:330:28:38

It gives me something of achievement

0:28:380:28:42

because I've never ever been a person that has mixed

0:28:420:28:46

and had conversations like I'm having now.

0:28:460:28:50

-Really? And that is through the hens?

-Through these, yes.

0:28:500:28:54

-That's amazing.

-I just didn't have a life with talking to people.

0:28:540:28:58

-I used the blush if I went into a crowded room.

-Really?

-Honestly.

0:28:580:29:03

I have only known you a few moments and I can't imagine that.

0:29:030:29:06

Exactly. You see, the thing is, I am on my second life.

0:29:060:29:10

I've had two lives.

0:29:100:29:12

I've got one I had and now I've got a different kind of life altogether.

0:29:120:29:16

Altogether.

0:29:160:29:18

And they have made it.

0:29:180:29:20

Do you ever think to yourself, where would you be

0:29:200:29:22

and what would have happened to you if you hadn't had the hens?

0:29:220:29:25

I would be a grumpy old woman.

0:29:250:29:28

Miserable.

0:29:280:29:29

And now...I'm not,

0:29:290:29:31

I'm a really happy-go-lucky person.

0:29:310:29:34

And that's almost it for this week.

0:31:350:31:37

A big thanks to the "hensioners"

0:31:370:31:39

and their happy hens for being part of the show.

0:31:390:31:42

But we will end today's programme with a hymn of celebration.

0:31:430:31:46

Until next time, bye-bye.

0:31:460:31:48

She's coming with me!

0:31:480:31:50

Ann Widdecombe goes behind the scenes of BBC drama Father Brown, which features a crime-solving priest, and Aled Jones is in the North East to hear about Hen Power and how it can help battle loneliness.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS