Songs of Praise broadcasts show's first gay wedding

Hayley Dixon
Jamie Wallace and Ian McDowall married at the Rutherglen United Reformed Church in Glasgow

Songs of Praise has screened the show's first ever gay wedding as part of a drive to modernise the programme.

Presenters of the BBC One show have vowed that they are “not afraid of controversy” as they broadcast a wedding which is currently banned in the Church of England.

The Sunday afternoon show, which has been running since 1961, was traditionally a “sort of hymn sandwich”, presenter of more than three decades Pam Rhodes said.

But now, which a magazine format an on screen cast which includes soprano Katherine Jenkins and JB Gill, the former frontman of boy-band JLS, the show is appealing to a new audience.

Last month grime star Stormzy even allowed his Glastonbury headline performance of Blinded By Your Grace to be rebroadcast on Songs of Praise.

Sunday’s episode on faith and marriage featured the wedding of Jamie Wallace and Ian McDowall at the Rutherglen United Reformed Church in Glasgow, one of the few religious denominations in the UK to welcome same sex marriage.

Since 2016 individual congregations have been able to vote on whether or not their church should hold the weddings.

Jamie Wallace and Ian McDowall's wedding was the first same sex marriage on Songs of Praise 

The show will be followed next week by an episode in which presenter Claire McCollum travels around the Yorkshire Dales on a motorbike.

The traditional format of filming a single service was dropped in favour of a magazine format in 2014.

Ms Jenkins, 39, told the Mail on Sunday: “Today we do have our congregational moments but we show the different ways people worship. If you do that walking over mountains rather than in a cathedral, it doesn't make you any less of a Christian.

“It's about adapting, making faith personal. Loads of my friends watch, most of them on iPlayer. I have one who enjoys it in the gym.'

 Rev Kate Bottley is the only ordained presenter on Songs of Praise 

Their changing audience was demonstrated to Rev Kate Bottley, 44, the programme's only ordained presenter, when she she sat down next to a man drinking Jack Daniels and coke at 4am at Glastonbury Tor and he turned to her and said “Aren’t you on Songs of Praise”.

The vicar said: “I don't expect people to fall on their knees in front of Songs Of Praise. “But we do do the big stuff - life, love, death and trauma - and we are definitely not afraid of controversy.”