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Channel 4 to telecast Britain’s first TV ad for Christianity

September 10, 2007:

The United Kingdom’s first television commercial for Christianity is to be broadcast from September 12, 2007.

The advertisement, for an introductory course on Christianity known as the Alpha Course, will appear on Channel 4 at 10.10 p.m. on Wednesday, during Brothers and Sisters, a new American drama starring Calista Flockhart.

The advertisement, which depicts human life as a conveyor belt from birth to death, has already made its debut on 2,200 cinema screens across the United Kingdom.

It is due to be shown 58 times on the E4 and E4plus1 digital channels. It will also appear on advertising screens in over 400 bars across the country and on 550 buses in London and Birmingham.

The Alpha Course, a 15-session course for those who are not established churchgoers, started in Brompton, London, in 1977. Courses now run in churches of every Christian denomination in 159 countries and have had about 10 million participants. There are 7,000 churches in Britain running the course.

The course is supported by senior Church leaders around the world, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and many Roman Catholic Cardinals. Over 10 million people are now estimated to have completed the course, which originated in an Anglican parish in London.

Supper parties and other events are being organized by local churches in thousands of locations across the United Kingdom – including hotels, sports centers and prisons – to promote the course.

The 60-second advertisement is based on Factory, an animated film by Alastair Duckworth, 24, a graphic designer and a supporter of Alpha. It features faceless stick people being dragged through life – school, university, marriage, house, car, children, wheelchair, and finally coffin – by the metal claws of a machine before asking: “Is there more to life than this?”

Mark Elsdon-Dew, of Alpha International, said that 10 years ago only 8% of the population knew what the Alpha Course was. “Now 23% recognize what Alpha is, and more and more young people are going on Alpha Courses. The purpose of the advertisement is to raise Alpha’s profile so that more people know what it is all about. Explaining the meaning of life is the point.”

According to a survey by Ipsos MORI, 23% of the British population now recognizes the Alpha Course as a Christian course.

Rebecca Stewart, director of Alpha UK, said: “With an increasing number of young people in their 20s and 30s attending Alpha courses, television and cinema advertising is ideal for us to increase the profile of the course among those who are most interested.”




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