A FILM that was banned in parts of the UK and abroad after being accused of being 'blasphemous' and sparking protests from some religious groups will be screened at a Leigh church the week before Easter.

Monty Python's Life of Brian will be shown at the closure-threatened St Mary the Virgin Church from 7.30pm on Friday, April 7.

It has been organised by Leigh Film Society and, in a nod to the religious satire comedy, people who come dressed as a character from the 1979 flick or wearing a fake beard will be given a surprise gift.

Elizabeth Costello, co-founder and secretary of the society, said: “The fact that we are screening the film in the church is unique and is typical of how we like to do things.

“We have screenings that are a bit different and this is certainly a good example of that.”

The Rev Kevin Crinks is happy for the film about a Jewish man who is mistaken for Jesus – he's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy – to be shown at the parish church on St Mary's Way, which has a £100,000 roof repair bill to pay and held an emergency meeting with residents last Saturday to discuss ways to evolve the public service and keep its doors open.

He said: "It is a very funny and well-written film which, among other things, challenges naive perceptions of religion and philosophy.

“The leading character Brian is mistakenly believed by some to be the Messiah and is 'followed' unquestioningly by some and faces persecution from others.

“The very small appearance by Jesus in the film is treated sympathetically.

"His words from the Sermon on the Mount are quoted verbatim with misheard references being shared by those who did not understand his message.”

The society has previously screened It’s a Wonderful Life and I, Daniel Blake at the church.

It says that both films attracted a 'good attendance'.

The not-for-profit organisation was founded four years ago and was recently boosted by Salford-born actor Christopher Eccleston, a former Doctor Who, agreeing to become a patron.

Elizabeth, from Astley, said: “Having Christopher as a patron is an absolute honour for us because it gives us respect and credit for all our hard work.

“We hope through Christopher’s patronage that we can raise the aspiration of young people in the borough to get involved in film and other associated activities.

“I think people who come to the society buy into the fact that you can see films that aren’t seen anywhere else.

“We have a strong committed team with community focus and are very passionate about film.

“When you bring those elements together there is no end to what we can do.”

Tickets to see Life of Brian starring the Monty Python team of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin are £5 and can be bought at the parish church or via ticketsource.co.uk/date/GEDJJK.