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Some 500 worshippers flocked to take part in what was billed as the UK's first Sunday Service Webcast yesterday.

Telewest teamed up with St Philip and St James Anglican Church in Bath to webcast the service, which was viewed by people as far away as Japan.

Around 170 people attended the service in person.

Except for a 30-second downtime, the online service went without a hitch. Such was the success of the event there are now plans to do it all again at Christmas. What's more, Telewest has received a number of requests from other churches to carry out similar online services.

Reverend Alan Bain, who conducted the first virtual sermon as part of his regular Sunday service, denied that the Webcast was a gimmick and insisted that it helped to attract a wider, younger congregation.

"We hope by breaking down barriers to religion our church will become more accessible to those who are unable or unwilling to attend the service," he said.

Separately, Telewest is relaunching its blueyonder.co.uk Web site to provide content and services for both dial-up and broadband punters.

"Our customers are more savvy and no longer need their ISP to nanny them when viewing content," said Telewest's Chad Raube in tatement. ®

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