Husband-and-wife team Roma Downey, left, and Mark Burnett, right

Husband-and-wife team Roma Downey, left, and Mark Burnett, right

These two TV stars are bringing the Bible back.

In 2013, executive producers Roma Downey (of “Touched by an Angel” fame) and Mark Burnett (executive producer of “Survivor,” “Shark Tank” and other hit shows) blew the roof off cable TV ratings with “The Bible” miniseries. Now the duo is moving to broadcast television with a 12-part follow-up series: “A.D.: The Bible Continues.”

Debuting on Easter Sunday, April 5, at 9 p.m. Eastern / 8 p.m. Central on NBC and continuing on Sunday nights, “A.D.” will dramatize the days following Jesus’ death and resurrection, as the first Christian disciples endured both Jewish and Roman persecution to spread the good news that would change the world forever.

Downey and Burnett told WND they hope this riveting new drama – which has already been described as “‘Game of Thrones’ meets ‘The Bible'” – will captivate audiences the way “The Bible” did and become destination TV for many seasons to come.

“When we brought ‘The Bible’ to the screen, many people thought we had lost our minds and no one would want to see the story of our Bible on television,” Downey recalled, “but we now know that 100 million people showed up [to watch ‘The Bible’]. We wanted an opportunity to take a deeper dive into the story, particularly into the Book of Acts, to bring to life the journey of the remaining disciples and the tumultuous time they were living.”

150326ADThe producers also shared with WND the scope of the first season and some of the highlights viewers can expect.

“The first season quickly resets the crucifixion and the resurrection and then takes us right through Acts 10 and the conversion of Cornelius, whom you meet in the first episode as a Roman legionnaire,” Burnett explained. “We end where Peter is learning the Word is also to be spread to the Gentiles, because he has that vision where he sees the sheets and all the different types of animals. … Then, when there’s a knock at the door, Romans have come, and you think, ‘Is he going to arrested? What’s going to happen to him?’ It turns out it’s the conversion and the baptism of Cornelius.”

Burnett revealed the first season will also spotlight the stories of Ananias and Sapphira, Philip in Samaria, Simon the sorcerer, the Ethiopian eunuch and more.

“It was our job to make the series a cinematic experience you can enjoy from the comfort of your own living room,” Downey told WND. “The series is big and epic on the one hand and yet poignant and intimate on the other hand. So we really hope that it allows the audience an opportunity to step back in time and to walk in the footsteps of these characters.

“It’s an exciting series, it’s big, it’s filled with action and special effects and a wide variety of characters,” she continued. “We have the Romans, a cruel regime that occupied the region; we have the zealots, who believed the only way to freedom is by lifting the sword; we have the Herod family and all of their craziness, and the Temple authorities and struggles for power; and in the middle of all that you have these disciples with their hearts of faith and courage.”

Watch a trailer for the series below:

The producers, however, recognize these stories are more than just entertainment. Burnett told WND the makers of “A.D.: The Bible Continues” want to ensure the tale is told with historical and biblical accuracy.

“Just like with ‘The Bible,’ we put together a group of theological and church consultants. We followed the same procedure, where we sent scripts and edited cuts out to many advisers, from both Catholic and Protestant denominations,” Burnett explained. “In ‘A.D.’ more than half of every episode sticks strictly to the story of Acts, and then we build around it from other historical documents – what was going on with the Roman Empire and with the Herod family and the zealots. We built a world where you understand how difficult it was to be a disciple, how the threat of death lingered around every corner. It gives you a sense of gratitude and understanding of how difficult it was for the Word to spread from 12 disciples to 2.5 billion of us.”

But only going through Acts Chapter 10, WND observed, leaves plenty of the New Testament and the early church period yet unexplored.

That’s all part of the plan, Downey affirmed: “We’re already scripting for the second season, and it’s our hope and prayer that ‘A.D.’ will be around for many years to come.”

Learn more about the series at the NBC website for “A.D.: The Bible Continues.”

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