Rory and Wendy bring God up to date

Thora Hird and Harry Secombe they're not. Rory and Wendy Alec (above) are the shiny new faces of religious broadcasting. She looks like Fenella Fielding in Carry on Screaming, while he looks like a blow-dried member of Bucks Fizz. And yesterday the Alecs, a pair of South African charismatic Christians, launched a highly expensive publicity and advertising campaign for their brainchild: God The Christian Channel.

In the unlikely surroundings of Sir Terence Conran's swish Soho eatery Mezzo, the pair drew on a showbusiness past of singing in nightclubs to present a tape of Christian programmes for the MTV generation. Although reliant on United States televangelists, they are also trying to make Christian programmes hip by using up-to-date presentation techniques and marketing. They are even trying to trademark the word God.

"We hope to give material that is going to attract a generation that is never going to walk into a church," says Mrs Alec. "Most Christian television is extremely irrelevant and old-fashioned. It is aimed at the over 55s." Instead of importing 70 per cent of their output from American evangelists as they do now, the Alecs hope to start exporting programmes to the US.

Wendy Alec became a charismatic Christian after seeing the face of Jesus in a mirror in the lavatory of a nightclub she was singing in. She joined up with Rory while touring South Africa in a Christian group and the two decided to set up a Christian channel in Europe after a preacher prophesied that they would.

Two years ago they had just pounds 140,000 in start up funds, two hours in the middle of the night on Astra and a pile of free tapes from American television evangelists. Now the channel costs almost pounds 3m a year to run and they are producing seven hours of original programmes a week. God The Christian Channel is currently beamed into 22 million satellite and cable homes across Europe from the Astra satellite for seven hours a day. Next April it will go to 24 hours a day and when digital television launches the Alecs have a licence for six channels of Christian output. Also included will be a Christian shopping channel - for tapes and books, but not holy water.

Funding comes from the US television evangelists who pay to get access to a European audience and from a charity that viewers can make donations to. British regulations mean that they are not allowed to appeal for funds on air in the way that has made American evangelists rich. But they are benefiting from the growth in the charismatic movement in Britain.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
science
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before