Nabil Abdulrashid takes on BBC's Pilgrimage | BGT comedian embarks on 364km walk

Nabil Abdulrashid takes on BBC's Pilgrimage

BGT comedian embarks on 364km walk

Comic Nabil Abdulrashid is taking part in the next series of BBC Two’s Pilgrimage, taking part in a 364km walk through Portugal.

The Britain’s Got Talent finalist – and practising Muslim – will be  heading to the city of Fatima, where in 1917 three local shepherd children experienced several apparitions of the Virgin Mary. 

Also taking part are Hi-di-Hi’s Su Pollard, who was raised Church of England; Jewish actress Rita Simons; Pentecostal Born-Again Christian, Shane Lynch of Boyzone fame; reality TV star Vicky Pattison, who is agnostic; Bobby Seagull, a practising Catholic and maths whizz and Paralympian skier Millie Knight, who is non-practising Church of England.

Pilgrimage cast 2023

For the first time, the celebrity pilgrims are on a deadline as they need to arrive in time for a major celebration which ends with a spectacular night-time candlelit vigil, attended by nearly 70,000 pilgrims.  

Carrying their own backpacks, the celebrities will sleep in rough and ready pilgrim hostels, a basic campsite, as well as a working fire station as they complete the 15-day trek.

Abdulrashid, 37, said: ‘I went on a pilgrimage to Mecca as a kid, but I'm yet to do it as an adult, so it’s kind of funny that I’m going on a Catholic pilgrimage first!

‘Obviously, I will not be partaking in any of the religious rituals, but I'll give them their due respect, as I like seeing and learning new things.  Watching any group of people do something for the sake of God, even if it's not my way, will be inspiring.

‘I’m not looking forward to sleeping in tents and dorms. I've never shared a room, except in marriage.  I like my space and being in a dorm with people, inhaling other people's farts, will be a challenge. But there are worse situations in life - I'm just being a diva.’

Along the route, the pilgrims will visit many places of significant interest including Bom Jesus do Monte, a Unesco World Heritage site and a medieval synagogue, which became a prison and a hayloft, before being preserved as a museum, as well as exploring each other’s faiths and  sampling local delicacies.

Pollard, 72, said: ‘I’m not deeply religious but I do like to think that God is my friend and when you're on a journey like this, without your usual comforting things around you, you've got more time to talk to yourself and ask yourself certain questions."

Bobby Seagull, 38, added: ‘The reason I'm taking on this pilgrimage is because I've reached a crossroads in my life where faith has played a big part, but at stages it has drifted. I would like to understand whether faith can play a big part in my life going forward, and undergoing this pilgrimage is the greatest opportunity I will have.

‘It's rare in life that we have a few days, let alone a couple of weeks to really look into ourselves in that manner. I'm hoping there could be a new Bobby at the end of this experience.’

And Vicky Pattison, 34, said: ‘I've never used the word pilgrimage in my life.  I don't think I know what this means but as you get older, your life becomes smaller and that's OK, but you can quickly become stagnant, and I don't want to be stagnant I want to constantly be growing and evolving and becoming better.

‘I think by challenging myself and by getting out of my comfort zone, that's when I can broaden my horizons. I know there'll be some differing viewpoints, some faiths I'm not familiar with, some opinions that are probably different to mine, but I think the key to us all getting along is just understanding.’

The three-part series, to air this spring, will be the fifth, with comics Ed Byrne, Stephen K Amos and Shazia Mirza.  The fourth series, Pilgrimage: The Road to the Scottish Isles was the BBC’s highest rating religion title in 2022, with an average audience of 2.1million,

Daisy Scalchi, BBC head of religion and ethics, says: ‘Pilgrimage is a unique series, using travelogue as a way to explore conversations about faith and belief from a variety of perspectives, with the spirit of curiosity, respect and understanding.

‘We see viewers’ appetite for programmes about belief, morality and spirituality is as strong as ever and Pilgrimage provides an extraordinary opportunity to bring these discussions to a wide audience.’

Published: 31 Jan 2023

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