Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville will examine the final week of Jesus’ life in a special one-hour documentary on Irish TV this Easter.
Bonneville, known internationally for his roles as Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey and Mr Brown in the Paddington movies, has a keen interest in the story of Calvary.
He studied Theology at Cambridge University, where he had a particular interest in the Gospel accounts of the life and death of Jesus.
The 54-year-old award-winning actor travels to Jerusalem in Countdown to Calvary to examine the events, characters and context of the last week of Jesus’ life.
With the help of some of the world’s leading academic experts, Bonneville explains why, 2,000 years ago, the arrival in Jerusalem, of a Jewish healer and preacher from Nazareth was so incendiary that the most powerful people in the land wanted him silenced.
“Jerusalem is a place where history and religion come together,” said Bonneville. “Whether you are a person of faith or of none, you cannot escape the fact that the last six days of this man’s life, and his death, changed the world.
“I’m not going to chart the religion that grew out of these events. I’m interested in the events themselves: what happened in that final week of Jesus’ life, how he died, why he died and who killed him,” he added.
Countdown to Calvary will be shown on RTÉ over Easter. It is the first project to come out of a co-production deal signed by RTÉ and European public broadcaster ARTE in November 2016. It also marks the Irish broadcaster’s first ever co-production with American Public Television (APT).
Roger Childs, Head of Religious Programmes at RTÉ said: “The events of the original Easter week inspired a faith that is now followed by 2.2 billion people. But they also have a more bitter legacy of persecution and conflict, which demands that we re-examine them, to understand exactly what happened, why, and with what consequences.
“Hugh Bonneville’s unique combination of international profile and lightly-worn academic knowledge make him the ideal person to shed new light on the events and context of that week for mainstream global television audiences of all faiths and none,” he added.
Picture: Hugh Bonneville. (RTÉ).