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'Heaven on Earth' New Series on TG4
22 Jan 2004 :
‘Heaven on Earth’
Sunday 25 January 2004 (Programme 1)

‘Heaven on Earth’ is a brand new international documentary series exploring how six major world religions have expressed the spiritual yearnings of the faithful in art and architecture. From the megaliths of prehistoric man to great mosques, temples and cathedrals, religion has inspired some of the most breathtaking artefacts, the most extreme devotion and the greatest human effort.

Presented and scripted by Christy Kenneally, and directed and produced by Stephen Rooke, this fascinating 6 part series from Tile Films has been shot in 36 distinct locations in 14 countries. Viewers will be transported on a journey from the arid landscapes of Mali to the high plains of Ethiopia in Africa; from Ireland’s rugged coastal islands, to India’s richly peopled cities.

Each of the six half hour programmes deals with a different branch of faith - from the ancient and all-encompassing creed of Paganism to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.

‘Heaven on Earth’ captures the beauty and scale of each sacred place, against the backdrop of the worshippers who inhabit the sites, and the pilgrims and travellers who visit them. It offers a truly cinematic experience, combining religion, art, history and travel in one spectacular series. The series also takes us to some remote and exotic locations rarely seen on television before.

‘Heaven on Earth’ has been co-produced for TG4 and S4C Wales and pre-sold to Suisse TV, SBS Australia and YLE Finland. This ambitious and unique international series has been produced in six languages – Irish, Welsh, English, French, Italian and German with on screen presentation by Christy Kenneally in Irish and English and by actor John Ogwen in Welsh. (Irish script written by Liam Mac Con Iomaire).

Presenter and scriptwriter:
Christy Kenneally is no stranger to travel and writing; he presented RTE’s ‘No Frontiers’ series and has been published on numerous occasions. ‘Maura’s Boy’, ‘The New Curate’ and ‘Life after Loss’ have all featured on Ireland’s Bestseller list.

“When Stephen Rooke asked me to present this series in Irish and English, I decided to put my linguistic cards on the table”, says Christy.
“I had taken English and Irish as subjects for my B.A. degree, but had little chance in the intervening years to use my Irish. I told TG4 that though it wasn’t on the tip of my tongue, it was in my heart, and they took a gamble on that. Having a non-native Irish speaker as presenter may well attract many people to the programme who have optional Irish like myself.
“I was lucky enough to travel and work with a crew who were professionally and personally the best companions one could hope for. There were tough times and everyone was sick along the way, but adversity often brings out the best in people, especially when three of us were hanging from the curtain rails on makeshift drips in Central India. It was 47 degrees outside and more than a thousand people died of heatstroke in the area.
“I filmed with Radharc in the Philippines and Pacific Islands almost thirty years ago. I filmed in Bangladesh, Thailand, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia with my own production company since then, but nothing compares to the diversity of culture and countries I experienced in the making of this series. My abiding impression is of how much more unites us than divides us, and my lasting feeling is one of humility.”
Director and Producer:
Stephen Rooke directs and produces high end, innovative international documentary series about people, history, religion, art and culture. His work has been broadcast on channels throughout the world. He directed the internationally renowned ‘Waterways’ series (Broadcast on RTÉ, TG4, Discovery America, Discovery Europe, SBS Australia, SABC South Africa, Travel Channel, CH4 and UTV). He has also directed ‘Voyage’, ‘Legends of the Isles’, ‘Terry Keane’, ‘From the Horses Mouth’, ‘Wood from the Trees’, ‘The State We’re In’, ‘The Changing Face of Dublin’ and ‘eco.eye’. Tile Films was established by Stephen in 1989.
“It’s never easy getting a television documentary series off the ground”, says Stephen. “It’s four years since I first came up with the idea, so I’m really happy to see it reach the screen. It took me nearly three years to raise the finance and over a year to shoot and edit, but it’s turned out to be the real cinematic series I wanted, giving the audience an insight into each of the religions, through art and architecture.

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