On Good Friday in 2012, the story of the Passion of Christ was played out live on BBC One from the distinctly unlikely surroundings of Preston Bus Station. Preston’s Bus Station is an iconic piece of 1960s architecture and arouses strong feelings in the face of the City Council’s proposals to demolish it. But whatever the merits of this icon of brutalism, it is a world away from first century C.E. Jerusalem and the Hill of Calvary.
So why did the BBC commit an hour of live programming and months of preparation to stage the Preston Passion? One of the reasons was the success of last year’s Port Talbot Passion – a demonstration that the story of Jesus’s journey to the cross could have modern relevance and generate significant interest.