Interview with Toby and Gemma
Nicky Gumbel, Gemma Hunt and Toby Flint are the three presenters of the Alpha Film Series (AFS). We caught up with new presenters Gemma and Toby to find out more about them and the project.
When did you first come across Alpha?
T. I moved to London after university and my new church was running Alpha. I’d always found telling friends about my faith a bit awkward but I decided I’d give it a shot and invited one friend, Nick, who came, bringing along his girlfriend, his mum and another friend too! Seeing the huge impact on each of their lives, I realised what a great way Alpha was to introduce people to faith.
G. I first did Alpha when I was a teenager at my church, and many years later did it again as an adult.
How did you get involved with the AFS?
G. I had to come in and audition! I remember having to stand on a crate next to Toby, ‘Mr. McTall’. If I’m honest, this isn’t the normal type of job I’d go for – my background is in children’s TV – but I felt God was calling me to do this. Out of obedience to him I agreed, and it’s been amazing.
T. I head up Alpha at HTB Church, and was involved in the early stages of planning the project. When it came to the filming, it was somehow left to me to fill the spot next to Gemma!
How would you describe the AFS?
G. It’s Alpha like you’ve never seen it before. It takes the same incredible content that’s been put together over the years, but the delivery is so much more effective for a younger, global audience.
T. The result is powerful. It’s compelling to hear from such a range of inspiring individuals. Shane Taylor for example – previously one of Britain’s most dangerous people and prisoners – tells his story of how his life was completely transformed through Jesus on Alpha. We also had the privilege of hearing from world-leading experts and Christian leaders, with Oxford Professor John Lennox for example discussing the question of science and faith.
What are your hopes for the AFS?
G. My prayer and my hope for this project is that people’s hearts are opened to experience this amazing, awesome God on a level they’ve never experienced before.
T. And I hope thousands of new churches and Christians will be inspired to share this life-changing, unchanging message of God’s love with others through this new tool.
How did you find the filming process?
T. The more I read my lines and the more I said them on film, the more I realised: This is true! This is amazing! This is life-changing! I was talking to myself as much as I was to those who will be watching this at Alpha.
G. I was picking apart what I was saying, I wanted to fully understand every word and my heart was changing through each line. It was like our own three-month Alpha course!
What was your highlight?
T. We shot in so many places, but my personal highlight was Jerusalem – from filming on an arid but beautifully wild hilltop where Jesus told The Parable of the Good Samaritan, to walking the same streets in the old city that Jesus himself would have walked 2,000 years ago.
G. Wherever we went, it felt like we were breathing the same air as those in years gone by, reliving their stories. It was a real privilege.