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RTE, ARTE, APT Team on Religious Documentary With Hugh Bonneville

Irish broadcaster RTE, ARTE and American Public Television (APT) are teaming up to co-produce a special one-hour documentary on the final week of Jesus’ life for Easter 2018, to be presented by Hugh Bonneville. “Countdown to Calvary” will see the “Downton Abbey” star travel to Jerusalem to tell the story of the last six days of Jesus’ life, RTE said Tuesday.

The project is the first to come out of a co-production deal signed by RTE and European public broadcaster ARTE in November 2016, which saw both companies pledge a minimum investment of €250,000 ($294,000) per year for an initial two years for the development of co-production projects.

It also marks the Irish broadcaster’s first ever co-production with APT, which will take U.S. public broadcast rights. It will be retitled “Jesus – Countdown to Calvary” in the U.S.

RTE Programme Sales will distribute the one-off documentary outside the U.S. ARTE will broadcast the program in French, German, Spanish and Polish via its non-linear digital platform arte.tv. TVCO is creating and marketing a version for Italian-language markets.

Speaking in Israel, Hugh Bonneville said in a statement: “This is a place where history and faith come together. 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.”

APT president Cynthia Fenneman said the documentary would strive to be accessible to all viewers, regardless of faith, calling the project an “exploration of the events, characters and culture clash of the first Holy Week” that combined “a thoughtful matrix of established facts, traditions and well-founded suppositions by distinguished academics.”

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