The final week in the life of Jesus Christ and His resurrection will be shown exclusively on Sky between 2018 and 2023, it was announced today. The broadcaster beat off rival bids from Channel 4 and a consortium of the Catholic Church and Amazon Prime, ending over 2000 years of free-to-air coverage of the showcase event.
‘After our previous unsuccessful forays into religious programming, this really is our second coming’, announced Sky’s Head of Programmes, Ian Stiles. ‘We’re going to relaunch the whole of Holy Week starting with a reality contest called Set Him Free where viewers get to release either Jesus or some common robber. Pontius Pilate will host, with regular cutaways to King Herod for his instant reaction on developments.’
The traditional scheduling break of three days from Monday up to the last supper will be replaced with continuous rolling coverage in Jerusalem, and a range of programming tie-ins. The Road to Calvary will revisit key moments in Jesus’ life, featuring commentary and insight from Mary Magdalene, Doubting Thomas, and Joe Pasquale. The Gospel Truth will follow four unknown writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as they struggle and complete their first fictional novel, with Larry Lamb narrating.
Maundy Thursday will showcase a new cookery show – Baker’s Dozen – where contestants have to make a meal for 12 guests plus Jesus, using only bread, wine, plus materials found in an average Gethsemane pantry. In a novel take on the elimination announcement format, losing contestants will be kissed on the cheek and given 30 silver pieces. Good Friday itself will become a pay-per-view event, with commentary and expert analysis on the crucifixion provided by Jeff Stelling, Paul Merson and Saint Peter ‘The Rock’.
In a final set of changes, Sky announced that the death of Jesus will also been moved from 3 pm to 9 pm on Good Friday. ‘The earlier time clashes with the traditional Castleford v Wigan Super League Easter curtain raiser’, explained Stiles. ‘We’re also revamping the rolling away of the tombstone on Easter Sunday. Joseph of Arimathea will now compete with the best of the rest in a series of events to see who will be crowned Jerusalem’s Strongest Man’.