2 October 2011 Last updated at 10:49 ET
*UK: BBC Songs Of Praise marks 50th anniversary*
LeAnn Rimes performs at Alexandra Palace to mark the 50th anniversary of
Songs of Praise
One of the world's longest running religious TV series Songs Of Praise
is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Sunday's episode on BBC One will be the 2,248th edition of the show, and
will feature performances from LeAnn Rimes and Andrea Bocelli.
The first show was broadcast in October 1961 from the Tabernacle Baptist
Church in Cardiff.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, called it one of the
best known institutions in UK television.
Initially Songs Of Praise had originally been due to run for 6 weeks,
but has gone on to become one of the BBC's flagship programmes for
The show has visited over 1,800 different churches, chapels and
cathedrals around the world and 201 people, including Delia Smith, David
Bellamy, Sir Jimmy Saville and Moira Stuart, have presented it over the
BBC director general Mark Thompson said: "Fifty years is an incredible
milestone for any TV or radio programme to be that indispensable, that
loveable, that inspiring, for so long - it's a real testimony to just
how warm and engaging Songs Of Praise is."
Other tributes from well-known faces have been paid to the programme
during a special anniversary show, which was broadcast last Sunday.
Songs Of Praise facts
* The first programme was broadcast in 1961
* The highest audience was 11.4 million on Christmas Day 1988
* The biggest congregation was 65,000 people on 2 January 2000
* The most popular hymn is How Great Thou Art
* Pam Rhodes presented more than 300 episodes
* 201 people have presented the show
"Well to all of you on Songs Of Praise, I want to say happy birthday, 50
wonderful years, and I'm sure you realise how important you've become to
so many people," Sir Cliff Richard said.
Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins Katherine said she thought the show would
"always last" and comedian Jimmy Tarbuck called it a "national institution".
EastEnders actress June Brown added: "Songs Of Praise gives many people
an opportunity to worship from their own homes, people who are sick,
people who live a long way away."
On Christmas Day in 1998, the programme attracted 11.4 million people,
which remains the show's highest ever audience.
Songs Of Praise celebrated the new millennium on 2 January 2000 at the
Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, where 65,000 attended, making it the
programme's largest audience.