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Former Emmerdale star to appear in Christmas production at Ripon Cathedral

Former Emmerdale star to appear in Christmas production at Ripon Cathedral

Published at 6:30pm 1st December 2017.

Award-winning actor John Middleton is going to be the narrator of The Story of Christmas with Carols at Ripon Cathedral on Saturday night.

It's a specially written and staged version of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus.

John played the Reverend Ashley Thomas in Emmerdale for 21 years and won widespread critical acclaim for his performance recording the decline and subsequent death of dementia sufferer Ashley.

He's won three separate awards, including Best Actor at the 2017 British Soap Awards, and also helped the series to scoop its first prestigious BAFTA Award for Best Soap.

John was also awarded Best Actor at the 2017 Royal Television Society Yorkshire Awards.

Speaking about his latest role, he said: "The fact that I was asked to come and do the narration for this Christmas story was a great privilege and I didn't have to think about it.

"Fortunately, I can just fit it in, because the following day, I'm going down to London to start rehearsing a play that I'm doing which is going to be touring."

The Story of Christmas with Carols will also involve dancers from the Academy of Northern Ballet, choirs from Ripon Cathedral and Ripon Grammar School, pupils from Queen Ethelburga's College and will also feature a donkey.

The performance will raise funds for the Ripon Cathedral Music Trust, which has so far raised around £700,000 as part of a major appeal to ensure that music at the cathedral is secured in perpetuity.

Chairman Sir Andrew Lawson-Tancred said: "The music at the cathedral currently costs some £250,000 per annum, which comes out of the cathedral's overall operating budget. This is already at full stretch and our plan is to establish a separate fund to meet the music department's running costs which will ensure this valuable musical heritage is secure for the future.

"I am very excited about this forthcoming performance and strongly encourage people to come along. It will give a new slant to the Christmas narrative and the audience will also have the opportunity to join in some much-loved Christmas carols as well."

The Story of Christmas with Carols, which also features local actors, is being directed by Gary Broad from Burton Leonard and Judith Graham from Wath.

The producers are Carolyn Collin from Roecliffe and Jayne Bailey from Harrogate.

Tickets for the event, which is taking place at 7.30pm on Saturday, can be bought from the Ripon Cathedral gift shop or online at www.riponcathedral.org.uk/event/storyofchristmas

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