Seven well-known celebrities from a mixture of religious backgrounds will embark on a pilgrimage to Istanbul this Easter, as part of the BBC’s popular Pilgrimage series.
Marking the return of the series, Pilgrimage: The Road To Istanbul will air on BBC Two this evening (also available on iPlayer). It comes hot on the heels of the first two critically acclaimed series that saw well known personalities embark on a journey of discovery, to Santiago and Rome, the latter of which featured celebrity pilgrims taking part in a private audience with Pope Francis.
As reported in The Catholic Universe at the time, gay comedian Stephen K Amos said the “life-changing” meeting with the Holy Father gave him “faith in human beings”.
Amos, who had initially prepared to challenge the pope over the Catholic Church’s doctrines, was left in tears when the pope told him that he was not being judged, and common humanity is more important in differences in sexuality.
This evening on BBC Two, seven new famous faces will take to the open road, as they follow a completely different pilgrimage. This time, in Pilgrimage: The Road To Istanbul, journalist Adrian Chiles, a converted Catholic; former politician Edwina Currie, a lapsed Jew; Olympian and practicing Christian Fatima Whitbread; broadcaster Mim Shaikh and television presenter Amar Latif, both Muslims; and two confirmed atheists, comedian Dom Joly and actor Pauline McLynn, will live as simple pilgrims following an ancient military route to the historic city of Istanbul, which has been transformed into a modern-day path of peace.
Formed just over ten years ago and designed to promote tolerance for all faiths and cultures, Pilgrimage: The Road To Istanbul will be a journey of discovery and adventure for the pilgrims.
Donning backpacks and walking boots, they’ll stay in basic hostels, sleep in shared dorms, and follow a largely untrodden route.
Starting in Serbia’s capital city Belgrade, the pilgrims will travel through Bulgaria and the mountainous Balkans, before crossing the border into Turkey, with their goal of reaching Istanbul and the magnificent Suleymaniye Mosque.
This year’s celebrity pilgrims have just over two weeks to complete their pilgrimage. They’ll visit historical monuments and buildings and see first-hand how religions have clashed over the centuries, from the Ottomans, right up to more recent conflicts.
With over 1,000 kilometres to cover, how will the pilgrims cope with the physical challenge and will this journey change how they feel about themselves and their beliefs?
Pilgrimage: The Road To Istanbul launches on BBC Two tonight, Friday 27th March, at 9pm. It will run for three consecutive Fridays, until Good Friday.
Picture: Adrian Chiles, Fatima Whitbread, Edwina Currie, Amar Latif, Mim Shaikh, Pauline McLynn, Dom Joly. (BBC/CTVC/Oliver Rose).