One of the main presenters of Songs of Praise, singer and presenter Aled Jones, talks about what he loves about the show, as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Born in 1970 in Llandegfan, Anglesey, Aled Jones has been singing since he was two years old.
At the age of nine, he joined Bangor Cathedral Choir where he came to the attention of a local record company and the BBC. Television performances and album deals followed and Aled achieved international stardom.
In 2004 Aled was voted Religious Broadcaster of the Year in the Churches Media Council's Andrew Cross Awards for his work with Songs Of Praise.
In January 2006 Aled also joined BBC Radio to present Good Morning Sunday on BBC Radio 2 and The Choir on BBC Radio 3.
Aled can also be heard on Radio 2 as a regular presenter of Friday Night Is Music Night
What has been your most memorable experience whilst presenting Songs Of Praise?
My first Songs Of Praise from Bangor was memorable because it was my first but the Remembrance Songs Of Praise from the Falkland Islands really stands out. It was the coldest I have ever been in my life (-17 degrees most of the time) and was the first time I've travelled that far for a TV programme.
I checked into my hotel and they said "we've put you in our only suite" and I said – "thank you very much", and this is in Stanley where there is nothing there except penguins and they said "you are very lucky, the only people to have ever slept in that bed are Alan Titchmarsh and Jim Davidson!"
Also, The Big Sing from the Royal Albert Hall is definitely a highlight because I front it on my own and it's a big programme for Songs Of Praise. People work on it all year, so to be able to do that it is an honour really.
Why do you think Songs Of Praise is so well loved 50 years after it was first broadcast?
It's the fact that it's got so many layers. It could be just a nice travel programme – a bit like holiday, as you get to see all these villages and towns at their best. It could mean that you love singing hymns because you're a Christian or it could be an act of worship.
It can be the world's largest karaoke because you like just like singing or it reminds you of times when life was less threatening, less pressured. You hear some amazing testimonies and amazing stories in the programme that it impacts upon you and makes you a better person.
Or it could just be someone living in a village or town, whose church has closed, or they can't get there so this is their one act of worship, of going to church from their home, or one way of interacting with other Christians in the country.
Is there a particular viewer's story that has stayed with you or inspired you over the years?
That is such an impossible question to answer because every week I am meeting different people with amazing stories and that's why the programme stands up so much – they are not diluted at all and the stories are all very powerful.
I've spoken to parents that have lost children and through that still have a faith and are still strong Christians, and I've also got to interview a few celebrities about their own faith as well. There isn't one main story that has remained with me, as they are all special for what they are.
One minute I could be out interviewing Cliff Richard and the next minute I'm interviewing a woman about the local plum festival – so never a dull moment!
Which celebrity have you enjoyed talking to about their faith/or favourite music and why?
It's always good talking to Sir Cliff; I've known him since I was a young kid so I feel like I've grown up as he's grown up. I normally talk to celebrities and it's normally for The Big Sing and for that I get to speak to lots of singers.
I enjoyed talking to Bryn Terfel about his faith, that was a good interview but it's invariably the normal, real people that have good stories.
What is your favourite hymn/piece of music?
The nations favourite hymn is How Great Thou Art and it's still one I sing in concert, when I do my concerts. I would say my top three hymns are How Great Thou Art, Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind and Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace.
Have you have any bloomers that you can share with us?
Yes there have been loads! I got on to 'Auntie's Bloomers' on my first programme when I forgot an Amen on my close up. There I was, chest out and showing off in front of the camera because the director told me too, and everyone around me sang Amen and I didn't! You just see me bright red and flustered thinking oh my goodness what's happened!
There have also been times when, without me knowing, the cameraman and director have made me go and post a postcard in a post box and they knew it was sealed so I couldn't get it in there. Yeah I know, hilarious...
If you're out filming day in, day out for days at a time you tend to have fun because I don't believe that life should be that serious really – so I tend to get on the bloomers show.
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