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BBC celebrates Easter with 'Passion'

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MUMBAI: UK pubcaster the BBC will celebrate Easter with a series, The Passion.

The setting is Passover week, Jerusalem, 33AD. As thousands of pilgrims pour into the city, tensions between the Jewish religious authorities and the occupying Romans are already running high.

When news arrives that a preacher from Galilee is about to enter the city's East Gate on a donkey's colt, thereby fulfilling ancient prophecies about the coming of a Messiah to free the Jews from oppression, the mood becomes even more incendiary.

The tumultuous events of the next seven days will resonate through the next 2,000 years of human history. Written by Frank Deasy, directed by Michael Offer and produced by Nigel Stafford-Clark, The Passion is a retelling of the story of Jesus's final days on earth and will air in the UK on BBC One.

Inspired by both the Gospels and other contemporary historical sources, the three-hour drama, for the first time, tells the story from the perspective of all the main figures involved – Jesus and his disciples, the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate and the High Priest, Caiaphas.

Stafford-Clark explains, "It puts it all into context, digs deeper into the characters and their actions. Why did Pilate agree to have Jesus crucified? Why did Caiaphas want him condemned to death? Why was there such excitement when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday?"

The pubcaster adds that The Passion allows the audience to feel as if they were members of the crowds moving through the chaotic streets of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.

Michael Offer, who shot The Passion in Morocco, says, "I wanted to project the experience of what it would have been like to have been living in that place at that moment in time."

The series stars Joseph Mawle as Jesus, James Nesbitt as Pilate and Ben Daniels as Caiaphas.

Deasy says, "It is, I hope, a version that everyone, whatever their level of faith or scepticism, finds rewarding. By the end, I hope people feel they have been on a very deep journey with these characters, that they feel they have shared the most powerful week of their lives."

A special website bbc.co.uk/thepassion launches on 28 February to provide a lively and exciting multiplatform companion to the drama. Users can explore a wealth of extra material, ask questions and contribute their own opinions and programme reviews.

Features include episode guides, video interviews with cast and crew, picture gallery and specially commissioned articles giving the background to the drama and the Passion itself.

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