A MAJOR faith festival has been hailed a “complete success” after its first year.

Crowds flocked to St Mary’s Church, Bloxham for the Bloxham Faith Fest at the weekend.

A 200-strong audience saw East-Enders writer Tony Jordan cry during a screening of his work, heard novelist PD James read from her books, and sang with broadcaster Rabbi Lionel Blue.

Organisers, including St Mary’s Church vicar Rev Sarah Tillett and North Oxfordshire MP Tony Baldry, conceived the idea to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible (KJV).

Ms Tillett said: “It’s been enormous fun and a complete success. I wanted to do something not solely focused on the KJV and Tony Baldry thought we should do a literary festival.

“I’d just seen Tony Jordan’s The Nativity and had this longing to meet him. I phoned him and he said he’d come. Once we got him I was confident it would come together.”

Mr Jordan, creator of Life on Mars and Hustle, topped the bill on Saturday talking about his take on Christ’s birth, aired on BBC One at Christmas.

He said: “What fascinates me is the reverence with which this story has been told over the years.

“The storytellers guiding principle has been not to upset anyone. I decided to upset the established church.

“I didn’t take much notice of the original story and then a strange thing happened. I felt dirty and disrespectful. I wanted to show the power.”

During a screening of the series, Mr Jordan was in tears.

He said writing The Nativity had thrown up more questions about faith for him, and left him keen to dramatise more bible stories, starting with a version of Noah.

PD James explained how church scenes and religious moments in her books often helped accelerate the personalities of her characters.

Rabbi Blue, best known for Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, invited the audience to sing the Christian song One More Step Along the World I Go, which he used to sum up his faith.

Renaissance expert Prof Gordon Campbell, of Leicester University, and University of Wales linguist David Crystal brought the KJV to life with animated discussions.

Organisers are asking for feedback to improve the second Bloxham Faith Festival next year.