Stars on Sunday (TV series)

Stars on Sunday is a religious request programme produced by Yorkshire Television (YTV) and broadcast on the ITV network from 1969-1979. It aired on Sunday early evenings during what was known as 'The Holy Hour' or more colloquially, 'The God Slot', the time in a television schedule set aside for religious broadcasting.

Stars on Sunday
GenreReligious programming
Created byJess Yates
Presented byJess Yates (1969-1973)
Gracie Fields (1970-1979)
Violet Carson (1970-1972)
Harry Secombe (1969-1979)
and others
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Jess Yates
Production company(s)Yorkshire Television
Original networkITV
Picture format4:3
Original release1969 (1969) –
1979 (1979)
Preceded byChoirs on Sunday
Followed byHighway


Yorkshire Television executive and producer Jess Yates developed Stars on Sunday as a replacement for outgoing show, Choirs on Sunday. The new format was a religious variety show with sets of a house and grounds created in the YTV studios in Leeds. One backdrop was the towering west front of the house; other scenes took place in the grounds, a waterfall and lake, the rose garden, the hall of dreams, a ruined abbey and a paddock. The most substantial set was the Lady Chapel constructed around genuine stained glass windows recovered from St John's Church, Bury during demolition. Originally the windows had been exhibited at The Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park, London. When hosting the show Yates would be seated at an organ in front of the window. He gained the nickname 'The Bishop' for his solemn delivery style.

Viewers wrote in to request hymns or bible readings and these were performed by a series of guest celebrities.[1][2]

Success and popularityEdit

A key element to the early success of the programme was Yates's ability to persuade UK and international celebrities to appear in the religious show for a fraction of their normal fee.[1] They were paid the minimum Equity fee of £49.[3]

The programme was reported to have increased its viewing figures from 600,000 to around seven million at the peak of its success,[4] although other reports cite regular audiences of more than 15 million.[3]

Yates's contract with YTV was terminated in 1974 when it was revealed that he had been having an affair with young actress Anita Kay. He was separated from his wife at the time. The programme continued for another five years.[4]

While a "significant" proportion of the inserts recorded for the programme survive, only a handful of the complete programmes are known to still exist.[5]


Guest hosts and contributors included:[2][3]


  1. ^ a b "Stars on Sunday". Fansite. Archived from the original on 3 December 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Stars on Sunday". IMDb. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Hayward, Anthony (12 April 1993). "Obituary: Jess Yates". Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  4. ^ a b Massingberd, Hugh (1998). Daily Telegraph Third Book of Obituaries: Entertainers Vol 3 [Paperback]. Pan Reference. ISBN 978-0330367752.
  5. ^ Stars on Sunday,

External linksEdit