Monks to feature on the BBC 

Downside Abbey monks record for BBC Four and BBC Radio 3.

The Benedictine monks of Downside Abbey feature in a new innovative television mini-series broadcast on BBC Four this month alongside a series of radio programmes on BBC Radio 3.

Retreat: Meditations from the Monastery is a ‘slow TV’ series that explores the everyday lives of the Catholic community based in Stratton-on-the-Fosse; an additional two episodes will visit the monks of Pluscarden and Belmont monasteries.

The monks allowed the TV crew access to all areas within the ordinarily out-of-bounds monastery, enabling viewers to experience the sights and sounds of everyday life. There will be the opportunity to see what monks eat, listen to Gregorian chant, and explore the famous monastery gardens. This new Slow special will give viewers the chance to take a step back from the hurly-burly of everyday life and enter a world of quiet contemplation as we experience life at a monk’s pace, using only natural sounds and with no voice-over or presenter.

In addition, a series of five 15-minute podcasts will be made available on BBC Radio 3, enabling listeners to travel on a journey to find inner peace.

“Television-wise, these monks are subversive punks.” (Times)

“Beautifully and unobtrusively filmed, this was an exemplar of its type…. In fact, watching the monks pray, chant, craft and potter around their garden was a bit like going on a sort of television retreat itself.” (Independent)

“Who needs chat when there are so many other thrills? Highlights include Fr Michael waking up, winding up the clock, having breakfast alone… Fr Christopher making bread, in real time” (Guardian)

Retreat: Meditations from the Monastery was broadcast on Tuesday 24th October at 9pm on BBC Four; the podcasts will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 from Monday 23rd to Friday 27th October, at 10.45pm. All episodes are available to catch up on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after broadcast

Harry Wallop explored ‘mindfulness’ and monastic life when he visited Downside, last week. Click here to read more in The Times newspaper. 

You can also hear the monks speak to BBC Radio Somerset about the process of filming the series by clicking here. Fr Christopher is at 1 hour 3 minutes in, and Fr Michael at 2 hours 6 minutes into the programme.